Understanding the right answer to the question “who is the human person” determines the direction of our world’s policy, our culture and ultimately our vision for humanity, according to the founder of the World Youth Alliance.

Anna Halpine has been crusading for human dignity from a very young age. In 1999, she started the WYA at the United Nations. She is also the CEO of Fertility Education and Medical Management Foundation, an organisation dedicated to a knowledge-based health programme for women.

She is currently in Malta meeting University students, giving a lecture to teachers and educators as well as to healthcare professionals and students on human dignity.

Ms Halpine helped build a network of young people with a focus on education and on providing youths with opportunities to think about what it means to have human dignity and how to live life in as excellent a way as possible.

The WYA has implemented the Human Dignity Curriculum in various schools such as in the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bronx. “The premise is that we have all these outcomes which we want to change: early sexual debut with kids aged eight or nine, a lot of bullying, alcohol and drug abuse and difficulties of broken families.

“We have stepped back from that and asked: what if we taught these children this sense of who they are? We have the ability to make rational choices, we can think and choose, we can make intentional choices for excellence.”

The seven-hour, philosophical curriculum, Ms Halpine continued, taught children that they were endowed with “powers powers to eat, grow and thrive and the power of the intellect, imagination and emotions.

This allowed them to think and choose.

“Kids know that we’re entrusting big ideas to them and it’s something they love. We help them understand that because they can think and choose, they can treat their baby sister better or they should help their mother with the chores.

“So the first thing we discuss is personality – who am I? And the second is our world view – what kind of world do I want?”

Research has demonstrated that when young people have a clear sense of personal identity which is rooted in the fact that they are people – and therefore subjects and not objects – they would have a strong world view which would pave the way for positive behaviour.

“Issues young people face on a day to day basis can be varied but what we say at the WYA is that first we start with the human person.

“If we get the idea and the reality of the human person right, then we get the chance to get everything else right. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to make bad decisions or wrong choices but if we can understand the reality of who we are and what we’re striving for, then at least we would know what we should be doing.”

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