TORONTO — Joseph Rothstein, a Grade 12 student at York Mills Collegiate Institute, credits his participation in last April’s March of the Living for motivating him to start a group called “We’re All Human.”
“The entire message of the trip was to do something afterward,” said Rothstein, 17, the chief founder and president of the group.
He said it was “very tough” visiting concentration camps and mass graves in Poland before he and fellow participants headed to Israel to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. “I learned from that.”
On his return home, Rothstein, who has worked at Camp Walden and is a baseball umpire for 10-to-15-year-olds, asked himself what he could do to help his community “and stop this from happening again.”
He decided to start We’re All Human to educate young teens about racism and the importance of “embracing our differences.
“We talk about how racism has affected us in the past 100 years – we give examples of different genocides and atrocities, such as the holocaust in Rwanda and Darfur.”
As well, a PowerPoint presentation details how genocides start. “There’s a joke or a racist comment, and it escalates from there. We explain how they can stop it.
“We really try to get [students] to get involved and try to inspire them like I was inspired.”
His friends and classmates Miles Resnick, Chris Phillips and Dylan Johnston work with him, and all of them take part in presentations. As well, they post frequently on the group’s Facebook page.
Recently, they spoke to 170 Grade 9 students at Windfields Junior High School.
Since the group’s initial presentation at York Mills, We’re All Human has made presentations to a dozen classes at three schools.
Rothstein, who wants to study commerce in university next year, would like to continue his involvement with We’re All Human after he graduates from high school.
“Right now, I’m focusing on promoting this while I’m still in Toronto. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen to it next year. It’s not just going to dissolve.”
For more information, go to facebook.com/wereallhuman.