The annual nation-wide Human Rights Walk is returning to The Woodlands again in December, and one of the longest-tenured local organizers — who became involved as an eighth grade student — is planning for the biggest and, he hopes, most impactful event ever with nonprofits and other advocacy groups spreading various messages to attendees.
Pablo Flower, currently a senior at The John Cooper School, said he first became involved in the local Human Rights Walk when he was in eighth grade and merely wanted to make a difference in society. Now, with other organizers having graduated and moved on to college, Flower has taken a more assertive leadership role in this year’s event, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dec. 7, at Town Green Park in The Woodlands.
“The whole goal is to create awareness to human rights and to peace and justice. We try to provide a road to action. We are trying to bring in as many nonprofits as possible into the movement who support human rights,” Flower said.
In 1948, the United Nations designated 30 unalienable rights as basic to all human beings under the advice of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the eight-page list is considered a common standard for all nations to strive for. The list has been translated into more than 500 languages around the world. The declaration includes several dozen of what are described as basic human rights, including the right to be free and equal, the right to marriage, freedom from persecution, the right to have a fair trial and not be subjected to slavery, and others focused on family, public assembly, education and democracy.
While the United Nations lists numerous “human rights,” the December walk will focus on many topics such as prevention and awareness of social issues such as human trafficking — both sexual and labor related — homelessness and food insecurity, Flower said. During his years of activism with the issue of human rights, Flower said he has become more aware of the present of these issues in the Greater Houston region as well as in Montgomery County. He claimed one presentation he’d seen recently estimated as many as 30,000 minors in the county were considered “food insecure.”
“People think that The Woodlands is in some bubble. It is terrible (these issues) are happening here, especially with Houston being the No. 1 human trafficking city in the nation,” Flower added. “As a kid, oftentimes girls may not understand (sex trafficking) is happening here. We need to make them aware, it is happening in The Woodlands. We are not immune to it…there is not an invisible wall that stops it.”
While this year’s walk is still more than two months away, Flower said he and other organizers are ramping up efforts to enlist more nonprofit organizations and local churches to join forces in raising awareness and promoting prevention. At the Dec. 7 event, he said there will be a raffle to donate $1,000 to a lucky nonprofit that assists with ensuring human rights. Among the groups already registered for the event are Habitat for Humanity, the Montgomery County Dispute Resolution Center and many others.
While human trafficking gets a lot of attention, Flower said homelessness in the region, especially along the Interstate 45 corridor and in areas of downtown Houston, as well as food insecurity facing children are problems that are shocking, but cannot be ignored.
“To think that there are (an estimated) 30,000 children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from…that is happening in our backyard now,” he said.
All those hoping to help are encouraged to attend the event and walk in solidarity as well as raise awareness of social problems and importantly, Flower noted, promote solutions and prevention. The 2019 walk is the ninth in The Woodlands, and was originally founded by Demme Durrett, a student at the John Cooper School, along with others. Flower said his involvement has been important in his life.
“We want to promote prevention and awareness of trafficking. Nothing is going to happen when you have your heads in the sand,” Flower added. “We want people to come out, become aware and find something they care about. People can also come out and see what the nonprofits do and hopefully, that will prompt them into action.”