This was my very first time attending We Day and I have to admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Within minutes of arriving though, all I could think was “I can’t believe it – they’ve made caring cool!” (Coincidentally, later on while in a question and answer session with Craig Kielburger, he too said “It’s cool to care now!”)
Caring wasn’t cool when I was a teenager. Any of us who were involved in the clubs and organizations centered around doing good and giving back were considered “nerds” and we were shunned by the popular kids. Seems the opposite of how it should be right? Well, with We Day, the kids who give back are shown great fun and appreciation for their efforts. You can’t buy a ticket to We Day – the only way young people can attend is by taking on local and global actions to change the world for the better. While I’m sure that it’s a fun bonus to attend We Day though, judging from the stories shared, I’d say that these kids are motivated by far greater purposes than a day of speakers and free concerts.
There were 7000 of us at We Day Waterloo and over 200,000 young people in total, coming together in 14 cities in the US, Canada, and the UK. We Day is one of the world’s largest charitable causes on Facebook with 3.8 million likes and over 1 million followers on Twitter. But what exactly happens at We Day?
Education – there are lessons presented in highly engaging ways to teach the youth in attendance how they can make a different. This includes speakers such as Kenyan Me to We Artisans mobilizer Mama Helen personally speaking to the life-changing effect the Me to We support has had on her community.
Inspiration and Motivation – United States Merchant Marine, author and inspiration behind the true story turned film, Captain Phillips was one of many who shared inspirational stories shared that day to the students in attendance. Each story brought with it a meaningful message of hope. We also heard from Natalie Panek – Rocket scientist, explorer, and advocate for women in technology, Amanda Lindhout – Canadian author, humanitarian, speaker, and activist who survived being kidnapped and held in captivity for 460 days by Islamic insurgents in Somalia who uses her experience as a catalyst for speaking on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and women’s rights, and Ashley Rose Murphy – born HIV positive and not expected to live, she was adopted into a family of 10 children, most with special needs and she uses her experience to educate and inspire others.
Photo Credit: Maria Gagliardi
Entertainment – Big name stars in attendance such as Kardinal Offishall, Virginia to Vegas, Alyssa Reid, and Nikki Yanofsky, definitely add to the cool factor. It also adds to the enthusiasm, motivation, and feeling of appreciation to the day.
It wasn’t just a day of inspiration and hope for the youth attending We Day though; it was for me as well. It was heartening to see so many kids who care deeply about the world they live in – so much so that they are willing to give of their time to work to effect real change.
Since 2007, youth involved in We Act have achieved remarkable social change:
- $45 million raised for more than 1,000 local and global causes
- 14.6 million hours volunteered for local and global causes
- 5.6 million lbs of food collected for local food banks
- 8.9 million hours of silence logged for those who are denied their rights
Learn about how you can get involved with We Day at www.weday.com and stay connected online
Follow on Twitter and check out the official hashtag #WeDay
In celebration of the We Day spirit, I purchased one of the We Day Rafiki chains – the proceeds from it will provide a child with school supplies for a year. If you’d like a chance to win this chain (it can be worn as a bracelet), please enter below. Open to Canada (except Quebec) and the United States.