Worldwide there are more than 250,000 children who have been recruited to participate in armed conflicts. Queen Elizabeth School, in partnership with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative, recently hosted an international conference on Red Hand Day – a global initiative to bring awareness to the plight of child soldiers. Through live video-conferencing, students were able to collaborate with more than 1,000 of their high school peers, from across North America. Students from Ross Sheppard, J. Percy Page, Vimy Ridge and Jasper Place schools also participated in the conference.
Terry Godwaldt, Director of the Centre for Global Education and a teacher at Queen Elizabeth School, said the video conference was about making real connections with what the students are learning in the classroom. “These are people whose lives have been impacted and our kids need to be aware of what’s going on the other side of the world is something that affects real people,” Godwaldt said.
Students skyped with Kadiatu Conteh, a former child soldier who was only 12 years old when she was taken by the Revolution United Front to fight in the Sierra Leone Civil War. Students also heard from retired lieutenant-general and Child Soldier Initiative founder, Senator Roméo Dallaire. They also learned about the extensive use of children in combat throughout the world so that they can begin to examine both the causes, as well as the consequences, of the practice.
The ultimate focus of the rest of my life is to eradicate the use of child soldiers and to eliminate even the thought of the use of children as an instrument of war. – LGen Roméo Dallaire, Ret’d