Sunday, December 8, 2013

We Day 2013

I've been lucky enough to be a part of We Day for the last 2 years. This year when Telus asked me to be a guest to attend the event, I jumped at the chance. I was so excited to attend the actual event, and as I was able to bring a youth guest, I began trying to think of someone I knew in that age range. It turns out I don't know that many people between the ages of 8 and 18...who knew?! So when my husband suggested the daughter of his coworker, I thought it would be an awesome experience. After all, while I feel I am sort of hip and know a bit about pop culture, I have to be honest in saying I had to google a couple of the celebrity guests at We Day this year...shhhh...don't tell! 

Anyway, my hope was that in bringing Emily along I would be able to get a better idea of how We Day effects someone still in the prime of their young years. When I was Emily's age I was a true idealist, looking to change the world by buying tshirts to save the otters (remember There Otter Be A Law? NO? Just me?! Ahhhh well...). Sadly, I have lost a little bit of that shine since I've become older and a bit more jaded with life. So I was looking forward to catching the enthusiasm and really enjoying We Day in the way it was intended. 

I knew I was going to be very moved, and I was. But what really was inspirational for me was to see the entire stadium filled with young people, all inspired to make changes, no matter how small, in this world for the better. I know that if even 10 of those whom attended carry that forward into their life that this world is a better place. 

On the red carpet with Emily 
If you haven't heard of We Day, it's an event put on by Free the Children. Thanks to generous sponsors like Telus, the event is free for the youth to attend, but they have to earn their way through volunteering in the community and in the world at large. It's a full day of speakers, music, celebrity guests and inspiration. And one of the cool things they have introduced is an app called We365. It's a completely safe digital social space for youth to inspire each other, and bring the spirit of We Day with them into their lives. They can choose causes they identify with and complete challenges from small things like using a reusable coffee cup to larger ones like fundraising. And it can also track your volunteer hours for school projects, etc. It's basically the Facebook of Doing Good. My favourite part about it is that it is totally moderated and it is safe (i.e. you can only "friend" people you know in real life, no geo-tagging of posts for youth, etc). It's a great way to make these ideas real, and to have a tangible way of making changes in your everyday life. It may seem small, but you can see that hundreds of users are doing the same thing, and you can know that you are indeed making a difference. Love it! 

I can write a summary of the event for you, but I think I would rather have Emily tell you in her own words, as they are so perfect. It was such a pleasure tospend the day with such an amazing young woman, and I hope that the experience will remain with her for some time. Thanks Emily for helping me to get a little bit of that old shine back and for inspiring me. 

My experience at We Day is one that I will never forget; from all the inspirational speakers to getting to meet part of one of my favorite bands! When we first arrived at the Saddledome I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect since it was my first time going. All I knew was that I was excited to have the chance to get to see all the amazing people speak. My junior high had always been a big supporter of We Day so I had a general idea of what it was all about but I never imagined the impact it would have on me. 
We got to watch from one of Telus' private suites which was amazing and when we went to our seats there were swag bags waiting for us. Inside were many things including a bracelet that lit up every time you clapped. The idea behind it was that the light was a spark, and a single spark can grow to be so much more. They would get everyone to begin clapping together so that it would demonstrate how everything starts with an idea and eventually that idea can grow to be big and can change the world, like We Day itself. I loved the whole concept of the bracelets and it really got me thinking about how I too can change the world. 
There were many speakers including Spencer West, Martin Luther King the third, Magic Johnson and more! However I was really inspired by Amanda Lindhout. Her story had stood out to me. She was a lady who had always dreamed of travelling the world and going to see exotic places and when she became a journalist she got the opportunity. However her trip to Somalia had gone terribly wrong when she was kidnapped. She had been held captive for almost a year and was treated horribly. She was kept in a dark room and was only allowed to lay on her side. I had heard part of her story already as my mom had read her book she wrote, but I didn’t expect to be as affected by her speech as I was. I think she is an amazing person to go through that, manage to escape, then come back home and get back to living a normal life where she doesn’t always have to fear everything. I can’t imagine how hard the whole thing must have been for her. I think it is incredible that she can take her story and use it to inspire people like she did me. 
Meeting Nelly Furtado. She's even more gorgeous in person, and she is so passionate about Free the Children. Amazing. 
I also really liked the Kenyan boy’s choir! Not only did we get to see them perform with Nelly Furtado and Shawn Desman on stage, but we got to see them perform at the press conference too! They were really fun to listen to and each performance was really energetic! The press conference was also a really neat experience. Nelly Furtado and Craig Kielburger also spoke at the press conference and it was cool how we got to get a kind of inside look into the show before it had started. 
One of my favorite parts of We Day aside from the inspirational parts was the red carpet. We got to meet Shawn Desman, Kardinal Offishal and Down With Webster! I have to admit I was pretty star struck especially when Down With Webster came. I am a huge fan of Down With Webster and it was crazy that I got to meet them! Anyway, each group got to ask each of them questions and I was pretty impressed with many of the answers especially Kardinal Offishal. In one of his answers he had compared his view of the world to glasses. He had said that it was like when you have a pair of glasses and you think you see everything perfectly well but then you go and get your vision checked and realize you need new glasses and when you get those new glasses then you truly see the world clearly. I thought that was a really good analogy and it really got me thinking about what I’m missing in the world that I could help with. 
At the end of the day I was sad that it was over but grateful to have gotten the experience. I decided I would download the app “We Day 365” so that I could make a difference. It is an app that gives you little challenges that can help make a difference in the world. You get to choose what causes you want to support and from there they give you tasks that can help with that issue. They aren’t big tasks but they can be little things that help. For example, if you follow the cause of bullying, then maybe it’ll tell you to give random people compliments or something like that. I think the app is a great idea and I think that the tasks no matter small do make a difference in the world whether it’s helping just one person or many. 
Emily with Down With Webster. Pretty epic. 
We Day was an incredible experience that I will never forget and I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am so grateful to have gotten the experience to go and it definitely had an impact on me. Since We Day I have been looking for more things I can do to help with anything and everything! If you ever get the chance to go to We Day I suggest you take it because you won’t regret it and you will leave with the experience of a lifetime and the want to go and change the world. 
If I look through my “We Day glasses” I can see acts of kindness everywhere just like the act of kindness Amy showed by inviting a stranger –me--  to experience the life changing event filled with the energy of many great people all joined together to celebrate the changes that WE can make in the world. 
Ok, I fan-girled a little meeting Kardinal Offishall. 

Thank you soooooooo much once again for the opportunity Amy! I can’t thank you enough times for the experience it truly was amazing and I will never forget it!


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