World Red Cross Red Crescent Day: Happy Birthday to Henry Dunant

By Tamara Braunstein – May 7, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012 — Imagine a plain piece of paper laid out before you. Imagine you crumple it up into a ball. Imagine you try to smooth it back out. Can you do it?

With this simple activity, Bonnie Lu, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Educator for the Wabash Valley Red Cross chapter in Indiana, demonstrates to hundreds of students each year the way their actions impact others.

For the past six years, Bonnie has hosted a birthday party at Chauncey Rose Middle School in honor of World Red Cross Red Crescent Day and Henry Dunant, the founder of the largest global humanitarian network, born May 8, 1828.

To celebrate Dunant’s legacy and vision, sixth grade students gather in the cafeteria to sing “Happy Birthday” and share cupcakes as they learn about the importance of human dignity, the history of the Red Cross, and the impact their own choices can make in the world.

Bonnie even includes a message about the effects of bullying: Just as they aren’t able to remove the wrinkles from their crumpled sheets of paper, how they treat people can have lingering results on others.

“Dunant had a vision of an organization that would focus on humanity and human dignity. The idea for this whole movement came from one man, which shows us that one person can make a difference. This is why I teach about human dignity, because if I can help just one child, my time is well spent,” Bonnie says.

Happy 184th birthday to Henry Dunant, founder of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network.

Aside from the birthday party, Bonnie has reached almost 500 students this year alone with her IHL instruction. And while activities for World Red Cross Red Crescent Day vary with each year, country and chapter, May 8 is an ever-powerful reminder of our global Fundamental Principles.

This year’s theme of “Youth on the Move” presents a welcome opportunity to recognize the efforts of the millions of youth and young adult volunteers – they make up about half of our volunteer base of 13 million people – around the world. In the United States alone, about 25 percent of American Red Cross volunteers are ages 24 or younger.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to supporting leadership development and recognizing the importance of youth volunteerism. From the summer internship program, to the National Youth Council and every day service opportunities, young volunteers make up a significant part of the organization’s rich history and development.

To find out more about how you can become involved as a young volunteer for the American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/youth.

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