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We Day: Recap

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We Day: Recap

We Day Vancouver’s 20,000 students + 1,000 local and global causes + $37 million donated since 2007 = a spirit of activism that can’t be quantified.

On Monday’s blog post, we revealed that Ellen, Leah, and I skipped work (along with 20,000 school-skipping students) to take part in We Day Vancouver: a gathering of charitable youth and iconic activists that was created to educate, engage, and empower thousands of young people. Although educational by all accounts, We Day was more party than lecture.

Speakers spark action

Every speaker engaged the audience on a personal level, talking directly to the students and educators who’d earned their tickets to We Day through altruistic acts. It’s hard to pinpoint one inspirational message (all the speakers were amazing!), but Hannah Alper’s was perhaps my favourite, as hearing a 10-year-old blogger speak so eloquently about making a difference in her local and global community was mindboggling in the best way.

The diverse range of guests (and the students cheering them on) did seem to emphasize one point: “you don’t have to be old to lead.”

  • “Your examples of fairness, equality, harmony, and peace ... can make a difference.”—Victor de Bonis, COO for Canucks Sports and Entertainment
  • “Spread the word, have you heard, all across the nation—we are going to be a great generation!”—Martin Luther King III
  • “The world’s going to be in good hands.”—Craig Kielburger, cofounder of Free the Children
  • “We cannot continue to plunder the resources of the world as if there is no tomorrow. As individuals, we have power, but we don’t often appreciate it.”—Kofi Annan
  • “Words are powerful: they have the power to break us down, but they also have the power to build us back up.”—Molly Burke, visually impaired motivational speaker

As if being a Nobel Peace laureate and former secretary-general of the United Nations isn’t enough, Kofi Annan also proved that he’s humble and humorous. Responding to a question about his fame and global celebrity status, Annan deadpanned that he has been recognized abroad—at least by fans of Morgan Freeman.

A host of causes were highlighted, from bullying in Canadian schools to zinc deficiencies in global communities. Canadian musicians such as Avril Lavigne and Jacob Hoggard also added their voices to the chants for change. I’ve never heard louder cheers—and the young attendees applauded just as vocally for motivational speakers such as Craig and Marc Kielburger and Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire.

Takeaway: the next generation is something special

We Day was inspirational. The near-constant cheers of 20,000 students seemed to argue against the nicknames that are often levelled at people my age and younger: gen why?; internet generation; mypod generation; boomerang generation; generation now. These names poke fun at the amount of time we spend online and our need for instant gratification—two attributes that We Day celebrated. Social media is the vehicle with which Free the Children and thousands of young people are driving immediate change. And I think that’s wonderful.

Tomorrow, Leah will be closing out our We Day recaps. In the meantime, did you or someone you know attend or volunteer at We Day? Let us know how you’ve been impacted in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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