This past Monday, May 28, 2012, I attended Free the Children’s We Day launch at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Eaton Theatre.
I was invited by the teachers who run the Earl Grey Public School FTC social justice club. Cuppa Change is currently coordinating a fair trade coffee initiative for Earl Grey to help raise money for one of the school’s social justice projects. This year, Earl Grey’s FTC Club is trying to raise enough to pay for a teacher’s salary in an FTC school in Terre Cassée, Haiti. During the 2010/2011 school year, Earl Grey’s FTC Club helped to earthquake-proof that school in Haiti, through fundraising done in part with Cuppa Change. If you want to read more about that work, please click here.
It was an honour to attend this exclusive We Day launch event – Earl Grey was one of only 20 schools invited, all of which are very active in social justice projects through Free the Children. Several people spoke at the event, including FTC co-founders Marc and Craig Kielburger, the Minister of Education, the Honourable Laurel Broten, and renowned actor Martin Sheen.
Craig Kielburger announced that We Day will take place in eight cities this year, including:
- We Day Toronto: September 28, 2012, Air Canada Centre (20,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Vancouver: October 18, 2012, Rogers Arena (20,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Alberta: October 24, 2012, Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary (18,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Manitoba: October 30, 2012, MTS Centre in Winnipeg (18,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Waterloo Region (generously supported by title sponsor, Research In Motion (RIM): November 14, 2012, Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex (6,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Montreal: November 20, 2012, Theatre St Denis (2,000 expected attendees)
- National We Day (taking place in Ottawa): April 29, 2013, Robert Guertin Arena (4,000 expected attendees)
- We Day Halifax: Fall of 2013
This is great news for students across the country actively doing something to change the world, given you can only get a ticket for We Day by earning it through social justice work.
Craig also mentioned that, when he was 12 and had just started his fundraising work, he was told that “kids go to schools, they don’t build schools.” Ha. How wrong those naysayers were.
Martin Sheen participated in the We Day launch to support the work that Free the Children does – not to mention the excellent work of the enthusiastic crowd of student social justice activists. Mr. Sheen told them that we are all responsible for each other – we make the rules that govern our behaviour. He assured them that we are not asked to do great things, we’re asked to do things with great care. And he encouraged them to find something worth fighting for, and become leaders of change – leaders, not followers. He said that while “acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive.”
The Honourable Laurel Broten, Minister of Education, who also supports the social justice work done by the students in the crowd, reminded them of a wonderful line from Mr. Sheen’s excellent show, The West Wing: “Decisions are made by those who show up.”
I loved how many decision-makers there were in that theatre, both young and old. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said that “the ancestor to every action is a thought,” and I looked around me at the students who were not only thinking of changing the world – they were doing it, too.
So if you have thoughts about a great way to change the world for the better, show up. Because it’s true – that’s how decisions are made.