During lunch and Flex on Wednesday, Mar. 10, students participated in the Universal Human Rights Initiative (UHRI) Chalk Walk to raise awareness for human rights and equality. The upper school students worked in teams of two to create chalk drawings in the courtyard. 

“The Universal Human Rights Initiative wants to bring awareness to important human rights issues,” history teacher Dr. Paul Berk said. “We want the Chalk Walk to be a way for students to express their support in their own ways with the idea that more perspectives are always a better way to increase understanding.”

A larger Chalk Walk competition is usually held at the Florida State Capitol as a larger event, but it was canceled due to Covid-19. After hearing this news, a group of students at Maclay decided to hold their own competition on campus. 

“A lot of the people at Maclay high school are a bit secluded, which is understandable considering the long-standing history many people have in this area,” junior Trevor Gross said. “Something as simple as drawing colorful pictures using chalk in the courtyard can very easily spread the message of Universal Human Rights–a very widespread issue at this time in history.”

March is Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day was Monday, Mar. 8, so the week was perfect for the Chalk Walk to promote human rights. Many of the groups chose to target women in their art because of the already increased awareness due to the month, but other groups, like juniors Trevor Gross and Braden Foster, chose a topic more relatable for everyone. 

“Braden and I wanted to do something a bit more general that fully encapsulated all aspects of the fight for Human Rights,” Gross said. “Our piece, in a way, is an apology to all those who have been subjugated over the world’s long history, but it allows for this optimism, signified by the candle and flame, that will guide us all out of the darkness.”

There are six main chalk drawings on the sidewalks, along with a few other designs dispersed throughout the courtyard. They encompass a range of perspectives and ideas, but all have some relation to human rights, aiming to spread awareness through beauty and art. 

“I think creativity is a crucial part of spreading a message. People can appreciate art and displays of creativity for their own sake, but I think when that creative expression is combined with a message of some kind, it can be doubly powerful,” Berk said. “I also know that there is a vast number of incredibly talented students on campus who are also passionate about social justice and other important cultural concerns. The UHRI wants to give a forum for these students.”

The UHRI is working to create an environment of inclusion at Maclay and has also partnered with the SPECTRUM club to continue working towards a more respectful and understanding culture in the community and beyond. 

“I love the chalk walk because it is an opportunity for me to test out my artistic side. I also love having the chance to create something beautiful and to share it with others,” junior Mercy Crapps said. “One of the messages is that we all need to stand for equal rights. We are not in a gender equal world, but we have made great strides to improve these conditions. We need to continue to push for equality and human rights so everyone can be treated with the same amount of respect.”