Playing for Higher Stakes: The Human Rights Game

Summer Blog Series 2023:
Summer, the Libraries & PLAY #5

The last installment of our 2023 Summer Blog Series is from returning guest blogger Elizabeth McChesney.

Playing for Higher Stakes: The Human Rights Game

Learning through board game play dates back thousands of years and has many strategies and outcomes. In Victoria, Australia, Hugh Kingsley, Educationalist and Founder of The Brainery®, believes gameplay is an excellent educational tool. “I see it this way,” says Hugh with a twinkle in their eye, “If students are having fun, they are engaged, they are learning-that simple.” But what about a game that can help build empathy in youth, promote pro-social behaviors, and encourage freedom, equity, and dignity?

Building on his expertise as an educator and creator of learning tools, Hugh and his co-collaborator turned to co-creator, Andrea Chorney created a game that could address issues related to the record level of child and teen anxiety and where “mores, ethics, and values are learned from non-traditional sources often with materialistic and prejudice underpinnings.” Hugh continues, The Human Rights Game came from a shared place of desiring to help children learn right from wrong in a rapidly changing world. I put this argument into a letter addressed to the Director General of the United Nations, and about a week later, I received a reply. Now I’m thrilled the Human Rights Game is an approved resource available on loan from the resource library at the UN Geneva.”

The Human Rights Game is also available to educators, youth groups, schools, camps, and libraries. Although it can be played in a home setting, the best outcomes develop when played in a learning environment with a facilitator. It is a highly engaging, fun game that addresses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 30 Articles and its three underlying pillars: Freedom, Equality, and Dignity.

Players ages 10+ engage with four decks of cards to discuss how they would handle potential ethical scenarios based on the 30 Articles. Bounce Back Cards add certain chutes and ladders elements related to environmental issues. “I hope the game will empower kids, teens, and adults and vest them to live within the UN’s healthy framework that recognizes freedoms and rights come with a responsibility to each other and the wider world.”

The game makers highly recommend a post-game discussion where facilitators ask questions and help clarify misunderstandings. This is followed by players’ extension activities that will help keep the learning about human rights alive and ongoing.

Hugh’s enormous heart and intellect are matched by his huge vision for the game:

“I believe that following a healthy behavior framework such as the UDHR 30 articles will lead to less racism, antisemitism, hate, bullying, and anxiety.”

About the Author: Liz McChesney served as the Chicago Public Library Director of Children’s Services and Family Engagement, where she earned numerous national awards, including the American Library Service to Children Distinguished Services Recipient. She now serves as the Community Partnerships Consultant to the Laundry Cares Foundation, where she helps build early learning in everyday spaces such as laundromats, WIC Centers, and family courts. She additionally serves as a Senior Advisor to the Urban Libraries Council and is a Senior Fellow at the National Summer Learning Association. In all these roles, play is at the center of her work. She has two books with the American Library Association, Summer Matters: Making All Learning Count (2017) and Pairing STEAM with Stories (2019). Her first picture book, Keke’s Super Strong Double Hugs, was published in 2020 and her forthcoming book, The Path Forward: Serving Children Equitably is forthcoming.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2023 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  For 2023, we are reprising the Libraries & PLAY blog series.