If you ever have the opportunity to do some good in the world, I highly recommend doing so. The elation you’ll feel knowing you’ve made someone’s day a little better is unlike anything you’ve ever felt.
There’s nothing more Canadian than WE Day: a celebration of change. Founded in Toronto in 2007, We Day is an event where change-makers come together to celebrate the impact they’ve made through service, including
- Me to WE Trips, where volunteers travel to “WE Villages” around the world to build schools, improve infrastructure and other community efforts
- fundraising at local schools for WE villages and projects around the world and even other individual campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness and Anti-Bullying.
I’ve been a volunteer with the WE organization, formerly known as Free the Children, for three years now. I initially started as a photographer for Carleton University’s chapter of the club, and I am now the Vice President of Communications. Through my involvement with the club, I then began volunteering at We Day in Ottawa, Ontario as a part of the Public Relations team.
Since my very first WE Day, I knew this was an organization I wanted to grow with. The atmosphere at WE Day is unlike any other: The feeling of being in an arena with 16,000 like-minded individuals, who just want to see the world grow into a more loving and accepting place, is easily the most inspiring few hours I’ve ever experienced.
WE focuses on a range of different efforts around the world but primarily on making sustainable changes for communities in need. Rather than providing a community with handouts WE creates WE Villages focused on five pillars: food, health, education, opportunity and water. This model provides communities with the tools they need now as well as a foundation to grow for years to come. Once the community is totally self-sustaining, WE moves out of the area and into a new one.
This year, not only was I able to volunteer again at WE Day, but I was also asked to give a short speech on stage alongside rapper, performer and DJ Kardinal Offishal to thank the youth volunteers for their service.
Despite being quite nervous about my speech in the beginning, the energy and enthusiasm in the room made my fears melt away. When Offishal asked me what advice I would give to volunteers, I said, “Every small step, no matter how hard it may be for them to see, makes a huge difference. The journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step.”
I was honoured to speak on the WE Day stage and incredibly humbled by the response I received from both the staff and audience.
Around the venue, the Canadian Tire Center, WE also had kiosks set up to purchase Rafiki chains and also educator booths to help teachers make their classroom a part of the WE movement. Rafiki chains are created by mamas in Africa, and all the proceeds go back to the mamas. There are also “track your impact” codes on each Rafiki chain that allows you to see where your money has gone and who it has benefited.
Kardinal Offishal is WE Day’s official in-house DJ and a regular performer at the show. Other regulars to Ottawa’s WE Day are Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, YouTuber Lily Singh and Canadian pop rock band Hedley. Internationally, stars such as Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are popular WE ambassadors.
WE Day is an experience I would encourage anyone to participate in. However, you can’t just buy a ticket to WE Day – you have to earn your way there. Volunteer, join a club and become a change-maker in your community. Change your perspective. Change your world for the better. Change your “Me” to “We” and become an agent of change.
To find out more about WE, visit www.we.org and find out how you can get active in your community.
By Leah Symonne