This week, I'm sitting down with Kaylyn O'Brien who will be talking more about the experience of co-facilitating the Geneva Human Rights Commission's first Annual Human Rights Day Film Festival. In commemoration of The United Nations' Human Rights Day on December 10, 2016, GHRC kicked off a film festival, screening Teaching Tolerance's "The Mighty Times: The Children's March" in locations around Geneva, NY. The film, which tells the story of young people resisting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, attracted audiences of Genevans in the Smith Opera House, the Geneva City School District, and the Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Leadership Institute.
Kaylyn O'Brien facilitated dialogue for the film screening at the Smith Opera House and invited GHRC to show the film and lead conversation at the Annual Leadership Institute for college and high school students in Geneva. Kaylyn currently serves as the HWS Centennial Center for Leadership's Coordinator of Leadership Programs.
SK: We'd like to, first, thank you for asking us to screen "The Children's March" at the Leadership Institute in January. What motivated you to host a screening at this event?
KO: Each year Leadership Institute brings together students from both Hobart and William Smith and Geneva High for a weekend of leadership learning and development. After being a part of the screening and dialogue at the Smith I saw how many of the themes addressed in the film parallel concepts we hope to expose students to during Leadership Institute. There is a lot to learn from the film, and the message seemed to resonate today, given the challenges we are facing at the local and national level. It seemed only fitting to host a screening at LI 2017 and use the film as a catalyst for conversation amongst young leaders in the Geneva community.
SK: What kind of impact did the film screenings and dialogue have on the community of Geneva?
KO: I hope that after viewing the film community members began to understand the significance of empowering our youth population. And after viewing the film at Leadership Institute, I hope our students believe in their own abilities to make an impact and create change in our community.
SK: Why do you believe it is important to host such events?
KO: There is still so much work to do. Geneva is a vibrant community, we should be empowering our young people to see their voices as equal to our own. Films like Might Times remind us of how important it is to stand up against injustice – and regardless of our age, there is no limit on our ability to create change if we are empowered to do so.