At this time last year SPIN reported on the We Day goals the Discovery Centre for Balanced Education (DCBE) kids hoped to achieve after their first foray into Craig Kielburger’s rapidly growing global movement for change.
To take a step back, 17 years ago Kielburger was a 12-year-old boy who was touched by the hardships and injustices he saw kids living under in the Middle East and India. From this experience he envisioned the possibility of change.
Kielburger established the Free the Children charity which is connected to Me to We social enterprise, and We Day, the experience that inspires the change. This year 100,000 Canadian youth in eight cities across Canada attended We Day, and another 5.4 million people watched via webcast. The youth pledge to act and be the agents of change by supporting local and global initiatives. Those significant numbers translate into over $20 million raised for 500 causes in the last three years.
In 2011 students from the DCBE attended their first We Day rally in Vancouver. They pledged to raise 400 pounds of food for the Kamloops Food Bank as their local initiative, and they raised it. For their global project they chose to support a Kamloops family working toward building a community centre in post-hurricane Haiti. Again, through their “Hike for Haiti at Heffley Lake” project, they raised over $800 for that project.
Now, in 2012, the DCBE students have engaged with the 20,000 youth strong We Day rally in Vancouver. They were exposed to diverse speakers including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and NBA star Magic Johnson, amongst others.
“We Day 2012 was another eye opening experience for our students,” says Laurel Seafoot, the students’ @KOOL teacher. “They had the opportunity to come together with 20,000 of their peers to listen to true leaders discuss the important role that young people may take to create change in the world. It was a very emotional and empowering day for the students and myself.”
To fulfill their commitments to We Day this year, the DCBE students are well underway, working locally with the Kamloops Food Bank again.
“As of October 30 the kids (raised) over 400 lbs,” says Seafoot. “Keep in mind they haven’t collected the boxes from around the village or TRU. On Halloween, the students will be trick-or-treating for non-perishable food donations.”
In addition to food drop boxes, students have also converted cash donations into food for the food bank.
“Liz Forster kindly donated $100,” says DCBE student Korina Linder. “While I was getting the food I learned to look for sales; at one store I saved more than I spent!”
Korina’s story inspired another donor to donate $50, and by the end of her shopping, she had raised over 200 lbs of food toward their cause.
The students will visit the food bank on November 9 to see what their efforts are supporting directly.
The DCBE and @KOOL students have set a variety of global challenges for 2012 including a clean water project.
“Our ‘We can make change’ initiative will begin in mid-November,” Seafoot continues. “We’ll be raising money to give clean drinking water to thousands of children around the world.”
The goal of the students’ We Day commitment in their initiatives isn’t mono-directional. Through working with local needs groups the students are working toward a philanthropic goal that’s immediate to their gaze. Through their global initiatives, they’re seeing that even one individual kid can make an impact on a global scale. And, through these combined experiences, with the support of community and teachers, and within a growing global movement, they’re seeing that extending a helping hand even at home can have an impact that extends all around the globe.
“We Day is the movement of our time and I’m so thankful that our students can be a part of it,” says Thomas Lowe, on site teacher at the DCBE.
Watch the highlights of We Day 2012 on MuchMusic November 11 at 4 p.m., or on CTV November 24 at 4 p.m.