Tour for Humanity
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies
The innovative Tour for Humanity (T4H) project is a unique educational initiative designed to inspire and empower Canadian youth to raise their voices and take positive action against hate and intolerance. An integral element of FSWC’s Educational Department, T4H is a 30-seat, wheelchair accessible, mobile human rights education center which brings FSWC’s Toronto-based educational workshops directly to students, educators and communities across Ontario. T4H incorporates multimedia to offer students a rich and interactive learning environment. Equipped with an LED-screen covered video wall and HD surround sound to encourage student interest and involvement, T4H provides a powerful educational experience unlike any other!
The inspiration behind the Tour for Humanity (T4H) was the need to have the ability to reach all corners of the province of Ontario with FSWC’s message of tolerance, respect for diversity and the importance of the value of human rights. Avi Benlolo, FSWC President and CEO, created and developed the idea, and was further motivated and supported by the FSWC leadership.
We have multiple goals with the T4H program:
1) To educate, by travelling to all corners of the province of Ontario with our message of tolerance, justice and human rights;
2) To lead Canadian citizens in positive discussions on diversity, equity, inclusion, human rights, freedom and democracy; and
3) To empower and motivate youth to be change-makers within their homes, schools and communities.
The programs created and implemented by FSWC on the T4H result from the persistence and pervasiveness of hatred and intolerance that exists in our world. While Canada is a free country where democratic rights are upheld and protected, it doesn’t mean we are free from hatred and intolerance. The most recent hate crime report issued by Statistics Canada (2013) identifies 1,167 criminal offenses identified as hate crimes. 51% of those hate crimes were motivated by hatred towards someone’s race or ethnicity and 28% were motivated by religious hatred.
Making a Difference:
The greatest impact of the T4H program is student empowerment and community building! The impact can be seen in the individual students as they participate in the program. They engage in discussions, ask questions about equity and inclusivity and work to offer real and tangible solutions to create more peaceful and cohesive communities. Initiatives that have been started in schools following T4H visits include the creation of equity and inclusivity clubs, food and clothing drives for local shelters, anti-bullying programs and groups to support other students in schools.
The high demand for our program presents some difficulty because we are only physically able to visit one school per day. If we had another mobile facility we would be able to reach twice as many students and could travel further afield to isolated communities. The cost of building a second Tour for Humanity facility is one of the largest challenges currently facing FSWC.
Vision for the Future:
We are currently working on developing a new series of cutting-edge technology programming that are interactive and enable all participants to take an active role in the presentation. We envision our T4H program will expand, not only with current programming and new communities within the province, but also with the size of our program. We are currently looking into the possibility of the development of a second T4H vehicle.
A high school teacher wrote: “the presentation brought context and personal connections to classroom learning, and the topics to life.” Most recently, a group of Toronto high school girls made an anonymous twitter account and re-tweeted anti-Semitic memes and ISIS statements. The T4H was called in and spent two full days at their school to address the issue, and to examine the phenomenon of being a ‘bystander’ and staying silent in the face of injustice, as many of the girls’ peers did.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) is a non-profit charitable human rights organization committed to countering racism and antisemitism and to promoting the principles of tolerance, social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and education.