“A movement begins with a spark and then it grows – across a school, across the province and across the country eventually reaching even the darkest parts of the world.” – Martin Luther King III
A dozen students from St. Gabriel the Archangel rose early on the morning of October 24, along with two of their teachers to attend We Day Alberta at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Students couldn’t buy a ticket to We Day, they had to earn it through service; by making a commitment to take action on at least one local and one global initiative of their choice as part of the year-long educational program.
They were joined by over 640 schools from across Alberta totaling over 16,000 students who packed the stadium sized educational event. We Day is an initiative of Free The Children and connects world-renowned speakers and performers with elementary to high school students and educators in an inspiring setting to learn about some of the most pressing local and global issues.
This year We Day brought together iconic speakers and chart-topping musical sensations including Magic Johnson, Nelly Furtado, Martin Luther King III and Amanda Lindhout. The show’s host was award-winning recording artist, Shawn Desman.
“When children feel a sense of community that is intrinsic and real – they feel fearless, they feel strong and they do feel like they can change the world” Nelly Furtado told media before the show when asked what the reward was for youth in attendance.
Trina Smith, a teacher at St. Gabriel the Archangel School said that the message her students received was one of empowerment and selflessness. “We Day truly inspires youth to make changes for the greater good of humanity,” says Smith.
The Junior High teacher, who also attended We Day Alberta last year, said that the event is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these youth who want to make a positive difference in their schools, communities and world. “Last year our We Day team planned a mini-We Day for the school where they had inspirational talks, put together bands and initiated school wide social justice and charity initiatives,” she says.
Whitney Revak, a Grade 8 student who attended We Day said that it was a very memorable day that she will not soon forget. She added her favorite speaker was New York Times bestselling author, Amanda Lindhout who spent 10 months in captivity after being kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in southern Somalia.
“She (Lindhout) really made me understand how important it is to appreciate the things we have,” shares Revak. “We are more powerful then we think, if we work together and change ME to WE then the world can be a better place,” she stated.
“Today something phenomenal is going to happen” said Martin Luther King III to the crowd. Certainly something phenomenal did happen, and the powerful transformations will surely create more caring communities by empowering the participants to be active global citizens.