If you’re a parent with tween-to-teenage children, chances are you’ve heard of We Day.
(Even if you’re not – please read on. This is important… and most inspiring.)
“We Day is Free The Children’s annual “youth empowerment” event. Held in cities across Canada, We Day motivates youth to take action on local and global issues. Since 2007, thousands of Canadian students have attended We Day events, which feature speeches and performances from global leaders, social activists and public figures. Each student group that attends is asked to make a commitment of one local and one global action throughout the year in order to help create positive change in the world.
We Day Toronto took place at the Air Canada Centre on September 28, 2012. It was attended by 20,000 youth and educators. Speakers and performers included Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, Al Gore, Hedley, Justin Trudeau, Martin Sheen, and Shawn Desman.” Source
I’m pleased to share that TELUS has partnered with Free The Children and We Day since the inaugural We Day event in 2007. Since then, the partnership has continued to grow, with TELUS contributing more than $3 million to Free The Children initiatives. In 2012, TELUS built on this commitment by becoming the national co-title sponsor of We Day.
Last month, partnering with Samsung Canada, they invited select bloggers and their guests to experience the splendor of We Day in person. As my children are too young to fully understand the significance of the event, I turned to one of my favourite social media enthusiasts – Robin Edwards from Shop With Robin – to cover the day. Here’s her recap of the truly inspirational event.
When I look at my twelve year old son, I never think “Shouldn’t you be at work?” He has plenty of time for that! (Although a summer job to make a few extra dollars would help facilitate his expensive skateboarding habit.) Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, twelve is ancient in terms of work. And we’re not just talking about taking out the trash or making your bed – we’re basically talking about what is slave labour. Children as young as four are forced to work grueling hours; performing extremely physical tasks for what amounts to little or no pay.
Introducing the Me To We program. Created by Craig Kielburger in 1995, he started the initiative after he read an article in a Toronto newspaper about the death of a young boy in Pakistan who was forced to work at a carpet factory from the age of four, and who was killed at age twelve because of his fight against child slavery. Craig and his brother Marc have established Free The Children, as well as the Me To We initiative, and they have energized youth in Canada and around the world to take action and be the agents of social change. They created We Day in 2007 to spread the word, and this year, the We Day tour includes stops in nine major Canadian cities, kicking off on Friday, September 28, in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre with almost 20,000 in attendance.
TELUS invited a few select bloggers to capture the intensity and excitement of We Day in Toronto, recording the footage using a new Samsung Galaxy S III smart phone. As the co-title sponsor of the event, TELUS believes the empowering youth will create positive change, and has also launched a campaign allowing youth to upload a video to www.telusforweday.com. Students can describe how they would partner with a local charity to make a positive change in their community, with the top idea receiving a $20,000 donation to their charity partner to put their idea into action. TELUS is also giving $25 from the sale of each Samsung Galaxy S III or Samsung Galaxy Ace Q to Free The Children. How easy is that?
I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Air Canada Centre the day before and witness all the action of the crew setting up the stage and preparing for the event, which included the awesome opportunity to watch Jennifer Hudson rehearse for her solo. I also had the honour of meeting the Kielburgers in person. On Friday, we headed back to the ACC for the big event, along with thousands of students from all over Ontario. The excitement was intense as Craig and Marc took to the stage; throughout the event, loud cheers resonated from the crowd as they talked about how easy it is for one person to start something that can help better so many lives.
With performances from Hedley, Nelly Furtado, Shawn Desman, The Tenors and a surprise appearance from singer K’Naan, the audience was on their feet dancing and singing along. The stunning Academy Award and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Hudson ended the day with an amazing performance of her song “Night of Your Life” and brought the audience to their feet singing “Hallelujah”.
The speakers that attended were phenomenal, including former U.S. Vice President and global environmental authority Al Gore; Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor David Onley; The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, Canadian senator, humanitarian and author; popular politician Justin Trudeau; as well as actor and activist Martin Sheen. We Day also featured speakers who are not quite as well known, but truly should be. Robin Wiznoski, who moved from Chicago to Kenya to help educate children and make life better for the Kenyan people; Molly Burke, who is blind, but sees the value in helping others overcome obstacles, and Spencer West, who has no legs and yet this summer climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands. All of these amazing people are just living proof that there is no such thing as “can’t”.
This year, We Day kicked of their new initiative, “We Create Change”. With the help of Jacob Hoggard, lead singer from Hedley, and Nelly Furtado at the We Day Press Conference, Craig announced “Canada’s largest penny drive”, and is challenging everyone to donate their pennies to provide clean water for communities overseas. 2,500 pennies would equal clean water for one person for life. With the penny scheduled to go out of circulation, this is an easy way to help make a difference.
Check out www.weday.com for more information on the events. To get involved and become part of the change, visit www.freethechildren.com as well as www.metowe.com for environmentally friendly products and life-changing experiences.