Middle school students from several Shelby County schools recently participated and won awards in various categories at the Junior United Nations Assembly held at Birmingham-Southern College on January 26-27. JUNA teams research world problems and develop an action plan to improve one problem.
Janie Gray from Montevallo Middle School won the Outstanding Girl Delegate Award. Chase Cowart from Chelsea Middle School won the Outstanding Boy Delegate Award. Chelsea Middle School won the top award of Outstanding Nation, representing Ireland. Chelsea Middle School’s team that represented Sweden also won for Outstanding Resolution.
Camron Chapple from Columbiana Middle School won the Erin McPherson Award. The award is named in honor of former JUNA participate Erin McPherson who died in a boating accident as a teenager. The receiving student has to be nominated by the school sponsor and have letters of recommendation written by the sponsor and another teacher. Students do not know that they are being nominated until mid-morning of the last day of JUNA.
Each of the nominated students has to interview individually with McPherson’s mother, who chooses the winner based on the interview and recommendation letters. Students are nominated based on their leadership.
“Camron went above and beyond to work on his own nation, but also help The Netherlands. Camron Chapple was the recipient of this award.
Chelsea Middle School had two teams to compete at JUNA, representing the countries of Ireland and Sweden. The team from Ireland presented a resolution to reduce air pollution by reducing vehicle emissions. The resolution called upon the United Nations to support their efforts to expand the public bike program in the town of Longford as a pilot for other mid-sized communities with poor emission ratings.
In addition to winning Outstanding Nation, the team from Ireland also won Honorable Mention for Best Native Dress.The team from Sweden presented a resolution to improve the lives of refugees by teaching job skills while building additional housing. The resolution called for the United Nations to support a program to recruit volunteers who are qualified professional construction experts to donate three to six months supervising and teaching the job skills needed to build an apartment building to immigrants in Sweden. The team from Sweden, made up of all sixth-graders, won the award for Best Resolution.
The following student delegates from Montevallo Middle represented the countries of Bolivia and Brazil: Janie Gray, Olivia Gilbert, Brett Terrill, Kayce Sankey Alyse Jones, Will Landers, Ella Price, Alex Hays, Jazmine Williams and Rebecca Emiliano.
The students worked hard at researching problems on poverty and illiteracy in these countries and came up with effective ways to resolve these problems. The team from Bolivia proposed a resolution to provide a better education for residents by starting an education fund for the steady pay of teachers while also endorsing multilingual classes. Bolivia’s resolution passed out of committee and was presented at the General Assembly.
The team from Brazil put forth a resolution to increase school participation and decrease criminal activity in youth by using a truancy policy and educating youth on drugs and violence.
Columbiana Middle School had two teams at JUNA this year, one representing the Netherlands and one representing China.
The Netherlands did a great job presenting their resolution, but it did not pass out of committee. The resolution was aimed at reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the Netherlands by having a strict restriction on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country.
The Netherlands team won one of three awards presented for Best Native Costumes. The boys are dressed as three famous Dutch painters – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer, while the girls dressed as subjects of the famous painters’ paintings.
The team representing China presented a resolution to decrease the amount of air pollution by requesting the Chinese government reduce air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The China team did pass their resolution out of committee and also out of the General Assembly.
China won one of the three awards for the Best-Prepared Nation. This award is given to the three nations that show they are well prepared to participate in JUNA by having researched the other nations’ resolutions and asking thoughtful questions to the delegates after they present their resolutions.
The team dressed in French Revolutionary attire and presented a resolution to decrease the amount of teen smoking in France and around the world. The resolution requested money to be used to create a social media campaign called “Breathe Again” that would focus on getting the message to the youth on the dangers of smoking. Caleb Flowers also represented his nation in Security Council meetings.
The Helena Middle School team represented Myanmar. They did a great job of greeting the assembly in Burmese, the native language of Myanmar. Following the welcome address, Myanmar presented to the Education Committee and passed their resolution to provide an education to child laborers through the General Assembly.
Myanmar wore lungis, which is a cylindrical tube of fabric fastened with a specially folded knot at the waist. The lungis were accompanied by English collared shirts, which are appropriate for business attire. The native dress was accompanied by sandals, while the men wore head wraps called “gaung baungs.”
Myanmar was named the winner of a mini-grant for the Burma Humanitarian Mission. Students researched organizations that assist in educating child laborers in Myanmar and wrote a grant proposal to provide mobile wired classrooms to educate child laborers throughout cities in Myanmar.