Thursday, October 13, 2011

We Day - 2011

The energy, the passion, the determination, the NOISE, it was all amazing. The power of 18 000 young people gathered together under  one roof in a room with people whose life's ambition is to unite them against world poverty, child labour and local issues is indescribable.  The noise was deafening at times.  When asked; Who is ready to make a difference? Who is ready to be the change? Who is ready to start today?  18 000 strong screamed back, " WE ARE!"

I had the privilege today of attending my very first WE Day in Vancouver with several students from the school I teach at.  While some of the students had been before and had tried to explain the power of WE DAY to me it's just not something one can comprehend until you've actually experienced it in person.

The day was filled with celebrities, music, dance, culture and passion.  Kids screamed for bands I had never heard of (with the exception of Hedley) and cheered and clapped for celebrities they had never heard of (Mikhail Gorbachev).  Shaq had them screaming WEEEEEE DAAAAYYYYY.  Spencer West, author of Standing Tall:My Journey, amazed them with what he had overcome in life, as well as his future plans to hike to the top of Kilimanjaro.  FRESH showed them all how boys can bust a move while Waneek Horn-Miller invited them all to join her Team Canada in efforts to support Canada's First Nations peoples.

While all of the famous people and the hoopla provided a backdrop for the day it was the young people and their passion and determination that touched me.  As face after face splashed across the jumbotron I couldn't help but notice the smiles, the cheers, the friendships and the pure joy that was evident.  There are simply not enough adults in this world telling our young people how truly powerful they are.  Imagine spending a day where EVERYONE told you repeatedly - YOU ARE THE GENERATION WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR.  YOU ARE THE CHANGE.  YOU ARE POWERFUL.  WE NEED YOU.  I work in public education.  Our job should be to send that same message.  I spent today listening to 18 000 young people being told they can solve the world's problems.  Tomorrow they'll have to ask to use the washroom.

It was great listening to Craig and Marc Keilburger tell their own story.  It was great listening to them tell the kids there not to listen to the people who use words like; impossible, never, can't, won't,  you're too young.  It was wonderful for the students of four schools to hear the story of how their contributions had changed the life of one girl and to see pictures of the school they had built, the well they had dug, the medical center they had built and the donations that had allowed a women's group to start their own business.

The most powerful moment of the day for me was when Michel Chikwanine, a former child soldier, told his story with large placards while honouring his vow of silence.  While the noise was deafening at times throughout the day, when Michel told his silent story it was the silence of 18 000 that was deafening.

Free the Children is the result of one child's dream and determination.  We Day celebrates the accomplishments of Free the Children while inspiring and mobilizing the youth of the world.  The message of the day was BE THE CHANGE.  The only thing I am asking for anyone reading this blog is to go the the We Day Facebook page and "like" their page.  For every "like" $1.00 is donated (by corporate sponsors) to Free The Children.

Thanks everyone!!


  1. Roxanne,

    I had the pleasure of experiencing WeDay two years ago and saw the excitement that resulted in our youths' eyes.

    I love what you say about "asking to use the bathroom"... Quite the different messages our kids are hearing.

    Although I love what Craig and Marc have done, a huge criticism I have with the event is the large corporate presence that is there. Philanthropy has become a way to market this generation (Telus knows their target market).

    When speaking with students, I encourage people to also discuss the impact of a corporate presence on our youth. Is it necessary? What other messages does it send? How do our youth deal with the mixed messages of child poverty coming from representatives of multi billion dollar corporations?

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful day, Roxanne. I remember seeing one of the Kielburger brothers being interviewed when he was twelve. The determination in him was palpable. It is great that they are passing on their passion to so many young people. I hope they leave an impression that lasts a long time and brings much good.

    In response to Chris' comment I'm thinking about the back to back stories I saw on the news tonight. The first covered the young protesters in New York speaking out against poverty and environmental policy, the second, the huge lineups of young people outside the apple store waiting for their iphone4's. We sure live in interesting times!