Sixth grader Lucy Chen wins Shoreview’s Human Rights Essay Contest

11-year-old Lucy Chen took top honors for her essay on protecting human rights in Shoreview’s 2013 Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) annual middle school essay contest.

Shoreview’s essay contest is held every year in conjunction with the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions (LMHRC).

The Shoreview HRC reviewed several submissions before selecting Chen’s as the winner.

The city’s staff liaison Tessia Melvin says a 10-person panel from Shoreview’s HRC selects a winner based on LMHRC criteria.

Panel members go back and forth discussing which essays they like, winnowing down the field to a few favorites before picking a winner to advance to the state competition. 

Chen, a sixth grader at Chippewa Middle School in North Oaks, will now represent Shoreview in that competition by competing for a first place prize of $500.

The question posed by the League for this year’s essay competition was:

As a member in your community, what responsibility do you have to protect rights in your community? How can you make a change in your community? Reference the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United States Bill of Rights or the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Chen researched common violations to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Rights, the Bill of Rights and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. She then identified three ways she could help to protect human rights in her school, community and around the globe.

Chen says she entered the essay competition because she enjoys language arts and finding ways to help others.

“I just really like writing and wanted to join the contest,” she says. “I want to help people some day by being a pediatrician.”

Chen lives in Shoreview with her mother Lingjie Zhao, father Liqiang Chen and older sister Sunny.

Her mother is a former doctor and her father is a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota. Sunny is a freshman at Mounds View High School, where Chen will attend in a few years.

“Lucy is an energetic and comprehensive learner,” her mother says. “We are so proud or her and Sunny.”

Chen says if she wins the top prize she will share the honor with her grandparents, who live in Jinjiang in southeastern China.

“If I win I will put the money in an education fund,” Chen adds.

The LMHRC will announce the first, second and third place winners in the essay competition at their Saturday, April 27 meeting.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at  jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.


Lucy Chen’s essay: How I Can Protect Human Rights

As I researched the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Bill of Rights, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and their common violations, I read a lot about people around the world who live in unsanitary places and people who have to work under inhuman conditions just to feed their families. The living conditions are poor with little food, clean water, medical care, a house, or education. Some also get cheated into working many long hours involving strenuous work with low pay. All of these are violations of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (articles 23, 24, 25, and 26). I believe that I should do all I can to protect human rights in my state, nation and even the world. I think that I have responsibilities to protect human rights because everyone should have them no matter what. At first I thought I could not help with a lot of this. However, soon I realized there are ways I could help.

One way I could get involved is simple; I can raise funds to help people in need. I can donate the money raised from a garage sale or from a lemonade stand to different organizations like the Red Cross or directly to the people in need.  This can help provide many things like food. This will provide help to people who live in polluted areas with little medical care, food, or potable water; the conditions that are deemed inhuman by article 25 in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This can also provide education to areas that don’t have school, making futures bright for children. These schools could give children education, making the chance of being tricked into a job with low pays less and could give them a better chance of getting a good job, preventing the violation of articles 23, 24, 25, and 26. This I believe will make a difference over time.

Another way I can contribute to protecting human rights is by volunteering. I believe volunteering to help people is a great thing to do. It is fun and I can get the satisfaction of knowing that I made a difference. The work can be providing food, clean water, medical care, homes, education, clothes, and more to people who are entitled to it. The benefits could mean a cleaner neighborhood or education for children. Volunteering can help people get the rights given to them by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Finally, one other way I can help protect human rights is by keeping watch. In school or on a walk, I can help protect Human Rights by looking to see if somebody is being treated badly because of their race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, disability, public assistance, age, sexual orientation, or opinions and then do everything I can to help them. This will help make sure no one is denied their rights. These are violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This is something I can do everyday and this could be something to prevent common everyday refusals for people to have their rights.

All three of these actions, I believe, are my responsibility to protect human rights. I also will try to spread the word about discrimination and how some people are living in inhuman conditions. If enough people do these things, we can make a difference.

Everyone needs to enjoy human rights, so I say let’s all, not one or two of us, make a difference.

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