They say there is no day like We Day 0
On Friday, Sept. 28, I spent the day in a room with 20,000 screaming teenagers. By the day’s end, I had never felt better.
Together with my colleague Laurie Bowker, we brought 13 compassionate, charismatic, and neon-clad kids to Toronto for We Day. I have to admit, there were a few times that we both wished we hadn’t signed up for it … namely, when the alarm went off before 4 a.m., when students were sick on the bus and when the lurching, stop-and-go traffic on the DVP guaranteed our late arrival. We would, however, do it all over in a heartbeat just to feel even one millionth of the energy in the Air Canada Centre on that day.
We Day is a one-day concert for social change hosted by Craig and Marc Kielberger of Free the Children.
Tickets are not sold for this event; rather, you must earn your spot at We Day through service to your school and your community. Throughout the day, the stage was shared by politicians such as Al Gore and Justin Trudeau, musicians Nelly Furtado, Hedley, Jennifer Hudson, and K’naan, respected public figure Romeo Dallaire, motivational speaker Spencer West, and celebrities such as Martin Sheen. There were videos, songs, dances, speeches, and through them, the message was as powerful as it was clear: you can make a difference. You can make this world better.
Students were encouraged and empowered to take action for a cause they believe in. It may be through a small food drive for the local food bank.
A personal vow to take shorter showers. An awareness and education campaign about the legacy of the residential school system in Canada.
A spare change collection to help provide clean water to a community in rural India. A bake sale. A car wash. A dress down day. Sometimes, the message was, it may only feel like a drop in the bucket, but that is okay, because if we all put in our one drop, the impact will be overwhelming.
We have been lucky as a school to have earned tickets to We Day for the past four years and have seen the effect of this day on students firsthand. Students return from the event filled with ideals, ideas, and a relentless passion to make this world better. Under the leadership of students who attended We Day, in the past two years JDH students raised more than $5,000 to build a school in Ecuador, while also collecting hundreds of food donations and toys to bring to the 4Cs right here in Haliburton. They are truly tireless in their efforts.
The impact of We Day on an individual student was never more clear to me than it was later that evening. Abby Gordon is a Grade 8 student who had wanted to attend We Day since fall of last year. She was elated when she was chosen to attend this year’s event.
Within 30 minutes of returning home, she called me just as I was pulling into my own driveway.
“Mlle. Veneziale, I know I shouldn’t be calling you at home but I just wanted to say thank you— I am so excited. I know I can change the world. And I am going to. Thank you so much for this.”
There really is no day like We Day.