I'm always wondering what the world will be like when my kids are grown up. Will they be keen on working hard and not be "entitled" as our generation is so worried about? Will they understand the need to help those who can't help themselves? Will they understand that we can all learn from each other regardless of race, income, and place in society? Will they understand that true happiness comes from within and not from material things.
I know they are just kids now but as a parent, my job is to lead by example. Even the littlest things make a difference. It's no secret that I volunteer within the school, community and with causes I feel strongly about. Doing these things without expectations of anything in return is how I was brought up. You help others because you want to...not for favours or for obligation. But because you want to and because you can.
WE DAY is one of those events that has been growing over the past 7 years. Formerly called Me To We, founders Marc and Craig Kielburger of Free The Children, have created a movement with the youth inspiring each one of them to BE THE CHANGE and to make a difference. It doesn't matter what the cause or how big or small, but to do something that goes beyond thinking of just "ME".
What is WE DAY?
In a nutshell...it's an enormous event that brings kids together with celebrities, entertainers, motivational and inspirational speakers. The largest event is held in Toronto with 20,000 kids in attendance. No tickets can be bought, only earned. Schools across Ontario are allotted a certain number of tickets and kids must be doing something for their community or greater. I remember last year when my son had attended. He didn't know what We Day was and he had already been helping out at the school as an Ambassador. He attended with the Ambassador group and the event left a lasting impression on him.
This year's event was hosted by Jesse Giddings, former MuchMusic VJ and included performances by Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, K'naan, Hedley, Shawn Desman, The Tenors, Lil JaXe, and Cirque du Soleil. Guest speakers included Al Gore, Martin Sheen, Justin Trudeau, The Honourable Romeo A. Dallaire, Spencer West, Robin Wiszowaty, and Molly Burke.
On our way down to WE DAY, I asked my 12 year old what he was looking forward to at this year's event. He mentioned Spencer West.
Spencer West lost his two legs at the age of 5 and manage to redefine possibility.He recently climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro on his hands. I wrote about his remarkable journey here: Ain't No Mountain (TOO) High
Having spent a few minutes with Spencer at WE DAY was more than inspiring. Not only does he prove that he doesn't believe the words "I can't do it" and flips it to "how can I do it?" but he has a sense of humour too. I asked him "What is the funniest question a kid has ever asked you?" and he replied with "boxers or briefs".
Molly Burke is one of the youngest speakers at WE DAY. At the age of 18 she's sharing her experiences of bullying. This young lady gave a heart-wrenching story of how girls, who she thought were her friends, had turned against her. She is blind. Molly silenced the ACC. Imagine? 20,000 in complete silence.
This year's WE DAY included a new initiative. Craig and Marc Kielburger unveiled the We Create Change Campaign alongside a corresponding penny drive made possible by RBC, The campaign supports Free The Children's year long Water Initiative to provide 100,000 people with permanent sources of clean water. Kids across Canada are asked to contribute to what is considered to be Canada's largest penny drive. Details can be found here at www.freethechildren.com/get-involved/campaigns/we-create-change/
Marc and Craig, as well as the many speakers, understand the power of social media and the youth today. Their message to the kids is "use it to do something positive". With all the texting, Facebook posting, and tweeting these are the most powerful tools to get the world to listen. No other generation has had that ability to voice out. Pretty amazing to watch the teens tweet out during the WE DAY events!
National Co-Title sponsor of WE DAY, TELUS also announced a campaign to encourage youth to describe how they plan to make a positive change in their community. The top ideas will be selected by Free The Children and TELUS, with the winning entry receiving a $20,000 contribution to their charity partner to put their idea into action. Kids are asked to upload a video to www.telusforweday.com describe their ideas.
WE DAYwill be travelling to various cities across Canada. It will also be edited down to be aired on CTV in November.
WE DAY Vancouver: October 18 Rogers Arena, (20,000 expected)
WE DAY Alberta: October 24, ScotiaBank Saddledome in Calgary (18,000 expected)
WE DAY Manitoba: October 30, MTS Centre in Winnipeg (18.000 expected)
WE DAY Waterloo Region: November 14, Kitchener Memorial Auditorium (6,000 expected)
WE DAY Montreal: November 20, Theatre St. Denis (2,000 expected)
WE DAY Saskatchewan: February 27, Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, (15,000 expected)
National WE DAY: April 29, Robert Guertin Arena in Ottawa/Gatineau (4,000 expected)
Thanks to Free The Children, WE DAY organizers and TELUS for inviting us to share in this truly incredible experience.
BTW...all the photos shown here were taken with the Samsung Galaxy SIII provided by TELUS for the purpose of "test driving" it to capture footage of WE DAY (video clips were also taken and currently in editing for a seamless montage - coming soon!). And I'm not gonna lie, it lives up to the hype!
TELUS has launched PHONES FOR GOOD giving $25 from the sale of every Samsung Galaxy SIII or Samsung Ace Q to Free The Children. TELUS has a five-year commitment of being the National Co-Title Sponsor of WE DAY. Kids also have an opportunity to EARN their way to the various WE DAY events in their nearest city. Youth can submit their stories about what they are doing to make a difference at www.telusforweday.com for a chance to attend. For each submission, TELUS will give $1 to Free The Children.
So, what are you (or your kids) doing to BE THE CHANGE?