A group of nine students from Lake City Secondary Columneetza Campus were among the 20,000 youth, educators and guests from around B.C. participating in We Day Vancouver last week.
The day-long “massive classroom for change,” took place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver Oct. 22 featuring speeches and songs by celebrities such as actor and humanitarian Orlando Bloom, actor/singer/ UNICEF goodwill ambassador Selena Gomez, martial arts and movie icon Donnie Yen, rowing Olympian and inspirational speaker Silken Laumann, and many others. The day was capped off with a surprise performance by Jennifer Lopez.
“The place just erupted when Jennifer Lopez came out to perform a medley of her new songs,” says teacher Mike Wilson who arranged the trip and accompanied the students along with two parent chaperones.
The group travelled to Vancouver together on a school bus a day before We Day, arriving in Vancouver in time to spend a couple of hours at Science World before dinner at their nearby hotel, then touring Robson Street and getting a quick tour of the Vancouver Library before it closed.
They finished off the first evening with ice-cream hot dogs at Japadog and a swim in the hotel pool.
Despite the busy day they were up at six a.m. the next morning in order to pick the best seats available in their section at Rogers Arena for We Day. Wilson said they were fortunate to get seats in the lower bowl, 10 rows up from the boards.
Throughout the day, the audience danced and came alive to electric performances from Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, Marianas Trench, Neverest, Kardinal Offishall and JRDN.
Numerous speakers talked about overcoming adversity and the roles in helping to make the world a better place in which to live.
Wilson said Silken Laumann inspired the crowd with her story about having her leg shattered in a boating accident, and going on to win a bronze medal at the Olympics just two-and a half months later.
Student Taylor Brink said she was inspired by Orlando Bloom sharing the story about how he thought he was invincible as a teen until he was in an accident and broke his back. Doctors told him he would never walk again, but when he walked out of the hospital 12 days later he realized he had been taking his life for granted and decided to work to bring positive change in the world.
The speakers included brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of We Day and Free the Children; a girl who talked about living with HIV; two students from Kenya’s Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School who talked about how education had changed their lives; Mama Helen from Kenya who started Me to We Artisans who are paid fairly for their skills and many others.
Wilson said you can’t buy tickets to We Day, they have to be earned by making a commitment to making a difference in the world locally and globally through a year-long educational initiative called We Act.
Among their initiatives the Be the Change Club is collecting food for the local food bank and working to raise $10,000 this school year to build a school in Africa.
Wilson said he had known about We Day Vancouver for a while but only learned how to apply for the tickets in the summer. His application was late but he was fortunate to be put on a waiting list and be granted 10 tickets to the event, one for him and nine for students.
During the second week of school Wilson said he started a Be the Change Club at the school to inspire positive action among the grades 7, 8 and 9 students at the school.
The club has had about 15 members from the beginning with some students from each grade.
To select just nine of the students for We Day Vancouver he had interested students write a letter explaining why they wanted to attend and watched how interested they were in school projects.
Fortunately he said there were also tickets available at the gate for the parent chaperones.
Wilson says the We Day Vancouver event will be shown on MTV Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. and on CTV Nov. 22 starting at 4 p.m.
People who have fundraising ideas for the Be the Change Club can email Wilson at Michael.Wilson@sd27.bc.ca.
Inspired to improve the world
Lake City Secondary students in the Be the Change Club at the Columneetza campus found great inspiration at We Day Vancouver.
“We Day taught me that even though you are a kid you can make a positive change in the world by doing little things like buying a Rafiki bracelet to support mothers in Kenya, and volunteering your time to help others,” said Chloe Lutters.
Emma Pittman said: “At We Day there were so many inspiring things … we can make a difference by getting 25 toonies to buy a goat, if we fundraised we could build a school. We can make a difference.”
Gabrielle Pierce said: “I loved all the stories that were told about how one small act can lead to a world-wise cause, like Pink Shirt Day. If you ever think even for a moment, that you can’t do anything to help the world and the people around us then think again.
There are so many fundraisers and activities that you can do to make the world a better place.
“For example our school club, Be the Change is doing a food drive, a fundraiser for the African Mama’s by selling their handmade bracelets, selling candy bags for donations, raising money for goats, vowing for 24 hours of silence to support those being bullied, and so much more.”
Ali Waterhouse said: “For me, We Day was the beginning of changing Me to We. I now try to wake up every day thinking ‘what can I do today to make someone a little happier’ … We day helped me realize that one of the greatest gifts you can give is a smile.”
Taylor Brink said: ‘To me, We Day wasn’t just a trip to see famous people, it was a chance for me to open up my eyes and to start really enjoying what I am lucky to have.” She also stated her helping goals for the year.