Amnesty Club Hopes to Grow in Shawnee Heights Community

Bella LeJuerrne, Staff Member

Being one of the least known clubs at the high school, Amnesty Club looks to grow with new activities that will introduce the club to students who want to impact the Topeka community.

“Our goal is to help around the community and do as much as we can, especially the Topeka community,” says senior Nikki Evarts, Vice President of Amnesty Club. “Just giving to them…to make the community better.”

Currently, there are about twenty-five students in Amnesty Club. Predominantly girls, members include freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The group is volunteering within the Topeka and Shawnee Heights communities, focusing on helping organizations such as the YWCA, LGBTQ Clubs, the Rescue Mission, and helping with Shawnee Heights’ Care Closet.

“Amnesty Club definitely helps people see what’s going on out in the community right now and how we can help. Volunteer work is always good for people,” Evarts says. 

Amnesty’s origin is from the sixties, when civil rights and flower children were at their height and the focus was to protect human rights for all people. Through growth over decades, the Amnesty idea functions under one international organization – Amnesty International. The organization involves more than seven million people in over 150 countries and territories, fighting for human rights around the world through researching and campaigning. From Amnesty International – sustaining the ideas of the original Amnesty Club – are local groups in schools and churches who support the international idea through volunteering. The local groups goals, including Shawnee Heights’ Amnesty Club, are to support and make a difference in their communities. 

Peter Benenson, Amnesty International’s founder, quotes on the goals of Amnest by saying, “Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done.”

After previous years of Amnesty Club focusing on running nationally within states, the club hopes to achieve a bigger name in the high school. Being one of the least known clubs without many meetings or a sponsor last year, the club looks to grow through activities aimed at gaining more interest in the club. Such activities include the Tie Dye Party on Sept. 29, which had an admission fee of $2 for members and $3 for non-members, and upcoming Halloween parties. The money that goes into the admission fees of these activities will go to fundraisers that the club chooses. Additionally, new interest in Amnesty Club will allow for a bigger impact on the community when it comes to volunteering, says its club leaders. 

“The biggest thing we were thinking of was spreading awareness for it. It’s not known. Tecumseh’s small, Shawnee Heights is fairly small compared to some bigger schools that are doing a lot more of human rights activism right now,” Senior Andrea Lopez, president of Amnesty club, said. 

Evarts adds that to make Amnesty Club more known means that they can make more of a difference in the Shawnee Heights community. 

This year, the club is inspired to make a difference within Shawnee Heights for those who are being mistreated and give support to students who need it. Along with volunteering in the community, the club wants to start helping underclassmen with schoolwork and donating to the school’s Care Closet. Furthermore, the club is focusing on making the school a safe environment for students who are judged. 

Evarts discussed how students do not get accepted because of their looks or race in the school. 

Amnesty Club’s focus is to spread awareness too. There are some who do not share a similar interest in volunteering as other students who are passionate about helping the community, but the club hopes to get their name out in the community to share the significance of volunteering. By spreading Amnesty’s name, the club hopes to spread awareness for the issues presented to those who are mistreated because of their differences. 

“I feel like a lot goes on in this school that not everyone is really aware of, because no one ever sees it, sticks up for people. So we’re going to try and make it a safe environment, so we’re going to try and stick up for those people,” Evarts said.

As this year’s leaders of the club graduate, Amnesty Club looks to have underclassmen members become officers so the club can continue to help the community through their volunteer work. The club is welcoming new members who have an interest in giving back to the community. 

“Stay involved and just try to do as much as you can,” Evarts said. “Because there’s a lot of stuff going around in the world, especially in Topeka right now, that Amnesty helps with.”