We Day, a global cause to change the world, was founded by Free the Children, an organization created by Craig Kielburger when he was 12 years old
The Saddledome was full of students in matching shirts, carrying posters, and wearing We Day flashing bracelets on Oct. 24. A day where everyone was brought together for a great cause.
Now in its second year in Calgary, We Day is a reward and inspiration program for high school students who have taken social action locally and internationally over the past year.
The day was filled with celebrities and guest speakers who inspired the students to continue their activism in the future, and to celebrate what they had already accomplished.
We Day was created by the organization Free the Children, which was founded by Craig Kielburger when he only 12 years old.
When he heard the story of Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old boy from South Asia who had grown up in slavery, fought for children’s rights, and was killed for it; Kielburger knew he had to take action.
After gathering his friends together, he started a fight to end child labour. Now, 30 years old, he runs Free the Children with his brother Marc, working with 1.7 million youths, developing programs in 45 countries.
The roster of this year’s We Day presenters included Magic Johnson, Nelly Furtado, Down With Webster, Sean Desman, Kardinal Offishall, Amanda Lindhout, Spencer West, and Martin Luther King III, among many others. The performances included singing, dancing, speeches and videos.
Martin Luther King III spoke to the students about their strength coming together: “You have a chance to be part of history, to be a regulator of the world.”
Magic Johnson made the students promise that they would go home and help somebody.
Amanda Lindhout spoke about the power in working together to help each other all around the world and that, “People everywhere have far more in common than they do differences.”
Erin Gallon, a student speaker, said it was important for people to find out what they are passionate about, and then turn it into action, and that they are not too young to make a difference. Other student speakers Hannah and Vishal told the crowd “Our generation is about to change everything,” and of how a dream can spread from person to person like wildfire. “Will you share your spark?”
Nelly Furtado said that when young people work together on causes they care about, they feel a sense of intrinsic strong community. This can be very life affirming, and make them feel powerful by being engaged in making change.
Then Kielburger gave a talk about what has been achieved so far. For example, among the thousands of other actions they have taken, the students have cumulatively worked 9.6 million volunteer hours — the equivalent of 1000 years of work; and collected 140 million pennies, 1.4 million dollars, — the equivalent weight of 76 African elephants.
They also announced the launch of We 365, an app that students can put on their phones, iPads and computers to help track what actions they are taking to make change in the world. It also contains resources of 85,000 agencies that students can match to what change they want to make in the world, a way to track volunteer hours, and even small everyday actions.
This is a platform that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. For every person that signs up for We 365, Free the Children will provide vaccines for one child in need. There is also a $10,000 prize for the charity of choice for one lucky winner.
We Day is not just about a fantastic event, it is about making a change in the world all year long. Step up, take action, and make a difference. As Craig Kielburger told us, “You are not alone in changing the world. It is cool and possible.”