logo.pngAs we speak, there are 18,000 kids at the Air Canada Center along with such mega musical acts as Nelly Furtado, Classified, Kardinal and Joe Jonas.  Is it a multi-artist rock festival? No, it’s We Day, a huge event organised to inspire and celebrate the youth movement for global change. 

In between grooving to their favourite music, performed live, kids are going to learn about serious social and political issues.  UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson is one of the speakers and in her presentation, she will challenge today’s youth to stand
up against global injustice and take action against famine in the Horn
of Africa.  Al Gore will speak to them about the environment and the former president of Ireland will talk about the importance of political activism.

wedaypic22.jpgWhen I read about this event in today’s Globe and Mail, I was immediately riveted.  I try to expose my kids to a lot – I feel that’s part of my job.  We run around playing sports, learning music, learning how to practice our religion. This attempt to produce well-rounded, fulfilled human beings is arduous, complex.  Unfortunately, there is no formula for raising happy, independent people.

But, I don’t think it’s enough to learn to play the piano and how to kick a soccer ball.  How do they learn to give back if we don’t teach them?  We talk to them about charity and volunteerism, but not a lot.  We say we show by example, but how? 

I tell myself, “They’re young. Let them enjoy before it all gets so heavy.  They’re too little to understand.”  Right now, shouldn’t it all be about princesses, soccer tournaments and movie nights?  I think it’s time.  We Day inspired me to challenge my views on this approach.  It’s not too early to teach them about their role as a world citizen and what they can do – however small – to encourage and implement change. It’s my goal to at least sit down with my older kids and talk about We Day with them and see what ideas they have. First, the conversation and then we’ll see what happens. The Dialogue begins today.

  • Brandon M

    We Day is a wonderful event but we must remember that it is also one charity’s private event. Public Schools must be fair and equitable to all students. Imagine telling kids that only those students in the Leadership Club could participate in the Terry Fox Run?
    Joining a club in a public school system does not give students right or accessibility to preferential treatment (or at least it should not) by staff. There are many students who do not join clubs for various reasons (some personal, some academic, some have jobs after school, etc) who still have many valid interests and should not be eliminated from the chance at getting We Day tickets. Indeed, many of the kids in the clubs already have the interest and We Day is simply ‘preaching to the converted’. Let’s give the kids that would never be given the opportunity to attend We Day a chance too and see if a spark can light a flame.
    I would personally like to see the public School Boards promoting We Day but not handing out the tickets. Allow Free the Children to offer the tickets themselves on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis not unlike a rock concert and everyone has the same chance at getting the tickets.
    However, if there must be a limited number of tickets for We Day offered by the public Boards, then have a school lottery (names in a hat) for those students who put their name forward and have interest in We Day. If it is not done this way, teachers had better be prepared to explain to the students who were not subjectively chosen why they did NOT receive We Day tickets. Remember, we are dealing with elementary grades here too (grade 6 with 11 and 12 year olds) and attempting to teach them about fairness and equality which is the very spirit of We Day so that they can be agents of change.
    And as for the teachers running the Me to We clubs et al. , my hat goes off to all of you for the hard work that you do with these kids. That still does not give any public school staff member the right or authority to choose one group of students over another to receive private event tickets like those for We Day.

  • Erin Little

    How would you suggest it happen then? Students choose to join a Me to We club because they want to be agents of change. Teachers start these clubs to help students see that they CAN be agents of change. Teachers do this on their own time, it’s not in the job description either.
    Obviously all the students in Canada can’t go.
    So what would you do?

  • Brandon M

    An interesting story. We Day is an amazing event for all the kids in attendance. But we must remember that the actual format that Free the Children uses for We Day is extremely problematic as it promotes ‘selection’ among students.
    After some research in various school boards, I discovered some disturbing info that Staff at many of the schools had subjectively chosen students to attend We Day. These selections included students in Leadership Clubs, Free the Children Clubs, Me to We Clubs, Student Councils, and so on. I have a serious issue with Staff in any public school ‘choosing’ which students will attend limited invitation private events. ‘Student Selection Committee for We Day’ does not fall under school Staff’s responsibility. Indeed, the act of subjectively choosing one student over another for attendance at a private event in a public school setting is completely unprofessional and a clear infringement of students’ rights.
    So let us all remember that while We Day is a wonderful event with a wonderful message, the majority of students in the various school boards across Canada will not be attending We Day because they were never asked to. Food for thought.

  • Erin Little

    I’ve long been a fan of the Kielburger’s who started From Me to We.
    I used him as an example when demonstrating how to write a biography. I read a picture book about
    I would love to get my school involved. I think I’ll start my own kids off locally. I have it in mind to do it via a club at school and maybe go to the Montreal We Day on March 1. Assuming I get approval of course.
    The Keieburger’s wrote a book called “The World Needs Your Kid”. I haven’t read it but it sounds good.

  • Amreen

    Sonya – what an amazing opportunity! I’m very excited to hear your thoughts and your son’s too. Btw, I loved your TIFF coverage! I lived vicariously through you for a few days 🙂

  • Amreen

    How lucky for them – I would love to hear about it.

  • Sonya Davidson

    We Day absolutely amazing! I’ll be reporting back once I’ve fully digested the awe inspiring day! My older kid was fortunate enough to be representing his school as well. I’ll be interested to see what impacted in the most..was it the speakers? the music. Let’s see what he brings back.

  • Sara

    My nephew and Will’s babysitter both had the chance to attend We Day and loooooved it. It’s such a great venue to get kids excited about giving back.

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