I first heard about We Day last year when one of their representatives emailed me to ask if I would promote their event on the OMC website. I have to say that I was quite intrigued by this organization, and what they were all about. I went on their website to check them out, and was totally amazed by the accomplishments made by youths with their help. I was thrilled when I was approached by Telus to be a guest with my 14 year old son in their suite at the Robert Guertin Arena in Hull with other local bloggers and their children. I usually take notes when I attend an event, but didn’t, as this was a day you had to embrace and totally live the moment. I was blown away!
We Day is an initiative of Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner that has more than 1.7 million youth involved in its program. At the age of 12 years old, Craig Kielburger co-founded the organization with his brother Marc in 1995. They believe in a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential, and empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens.
Over the past five years, youth involved in We Act have achieved amazing social change results:
- $26 millions was raised for more than 900 local and global causes
- 5.1 million volunteered for local and global causes
- 2.8 million pounds of food were collected for local food banks
- 6.3 million hours of silence were logged for children in developing communities silenced by poverty and exploitation
Even youth from across Ottawa-Gatineau are involved in their community:
- More than 100 schools are currently active in We Act
- 34 schools participated in Free the Children’s We Scare Hunger campaign, collecting food for local food banks
- The Ottawa region has raised over $10 000 in pennies as part of Free the Children We Create Change campaign in support of Free the Children’s water projects in developing communities overseas
This is an event where students can’t buy tickets, for they have to earn it through service by making a commitment to take on local and one global action to better the world as part of the We Act Program. Thousands of youth were sitting in the arena, cheering, signing, and dancing to the We Day Dance. They were so enthusiastic and excited to be part of this inspirational day. I asked my son what he thought We Day was all about. He replied, ” It’s a day where youth are rewarded for their hard work in helping others”, and that pretty much sums it up, but what a DAY!
We Day started at 9am with an hour lunch and ended at 2pm. Now that’s a major entertainment show! I was impressed by the professionalism of the organizing committee. The day went by flawlessly as we were entertained by renowned performers, speakers, actors, and singers. Each speaker shared their personal, and for most of them, emotional stories on how they overcame their battles, beat the odds, and made a difference in their lives and those of others. I laughed, sang, wiped a few tears, and came home a better person.
As part of the media, I was lucky to take part in press activities that featured Craig Kielburger, Spencer West, Shawn Desman, Neverest, and Martin Sheen. We also had a surprise visit from Craig at the Telus suite.
The full lineup included:
- Martin Sheen – Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning actor and activist
- Chief Shawn Atleo – National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
- Kardinal Offishall – Canadian rapper and record producer
- Karl Wolf – International recording artist, Socan & MTV Europe Music Award winner
- Shawn Desman – Platinum-selling, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artist
- Cast members from the hit TV show DEGRASSI
- My Name is Kay – Canadian singer and songwriter
- A performance by ONE DROP, a Cirque du Soleil Founder’s initiative
- Frank O’Dea – Second Cup founder, Canadian entrepreneur, humanitarian and author
- Neverest – Canadian pop-rock band
- Jillian Vanstone – principal dancer at the National Ballet of Canada
- Rob Stewart – Award winning filmmaker of Sharkwater and Revolution
- Tyler Shaw – 2012 Coca Cola COVERS MuchMusic Video Award winner
- Molly Burke – Visually impaired Me to We motivational speaker
- Spencer West – Me to We motivational speaker and Free The Children ambassador
At the end of the day, students left feeling inspired, good about themselves, and motivated to continue improving the lives of others locally or around the world. These youth are not only our future, they are also taking actions to be part of the present. I was so proud to be part of such an exceptional and memorable day. Thank you Telus!
You are not alone, united we are one voice! We inspire the change!
I would love to hear if your kids attended the day, and if they discussed the issues talked at We Day?