Making a Global Impact in a Small Town


Lilly O’Conner, founder of Ipswich’s Amnesty Chapter

Kylie O'Keefe and Camryn Knowlton

Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization that helps fight abuses of human rights on a local and global scale. Since founded in 1961, the organization has gained major attention and now has more than 7 million followers in over 150 countries. Groups all over the world have come together to help solve issues regarding the death penalty, national security, deadly force, gun violence, gender, sexuality, identity and individuals at risk. Over the past few years, Amnesty has gained popularity among a younger demographic. Many high schools and colleges around the United States have created youth organizations and chapters affiliated with the organization. 

Lilly O’Connor, a senior at Ipswich High School, has teamed up with history teacher, Mrs. Smith to create an Amnesty chapter at our school. Lilly brought Amnesty International to Ipswich in order to spread awareness about global issues and to give kids the opportunity to make a difference in the world. Not only do Amnesty Chapters work alongside the major organization, but they also work on local projects. Since the end of last year, the group has worked on projects with the local House of Peace and has planned on participating in the upcoming Write for Rights event.

Human rights are something that Lilly is very passionate about. Lilly’s main goal for the club is to educate her classmates on problems that people are facing outside of Ipswich. She first heard about the organization from her dad and was inspired to start the chapter because “our school/community super sheltered and we don’t see a lot of what’s going on around the world. Lilly told us, “I want to help people realize injustices people are facing that we don’t have to deal with on an everyday basis.”

As a new club at Ipswich High, it hasn’t been easy to get it up and running, but the positive and inviting energy of the club has made it easier to gain followers for success. Lilly says the club is different from others at the school because “It focuses on helping people worldwide not just in our community.” Lilly is also grateful that the Chapter has the help of the larger organization. The board members of the Ipswich Chapter have the opportunity to chat or video call with other members of Amnesty. This has been such a great tool to get the Ipswich Chapter active since they give ideas for weekly goals/projects. Furthermore, the Chapter has been and plans on being apart of Amnesty International events.

In November, Lilly and other amnesty members, Ellie O’Donnell and Aurora Gabriel, attended the Regional Amnesty International Conference at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. At the conference, they were given the opportunity to learn about current international issues, such as climate change, and projects the Ipswich Chapter can be apart of. Recently, the club contributed to the “Write for Rights”, where club members wrote letters to foreign governments to urge them to free innocent prisoners. This is an annual tradition that Amnesty International partakes in. Lilly is excited to see what the future has in store for the Chapter.

As the year goes, Lilly hopes for the Amnesty Chapter to grow and get more involved in the community. She hopes that even when she is off to college next year,  our Chapter of Amnesty will continue to make a difference in Ipswich, and around the world.