We Day

Updated November 4: Talking about WE Day on Global TV

It all started one year ago while watching Ed Bradley interview this guy I had never heard of, Craig Kielburger, on 60 Minutes. What I saw, blew me away. It all started with a dream…  a 12 year old boy on a mission to end child slavery and encourage young people to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. What lives today?

THIS. Watch it. Please.

So when I heard WE Day was coming to Montreal, I knew I couldn’t miss it. Especially as a mom trying to raise two young boys as solid, participating members of society, I decided to attend my first WE Day yesterday.

And what an empowering day it was. Bus loads of students, thousands of students actually, ran off their buses and into the theater to attend the day. Everyone in the crowd there not on a paid ticket, but an earned ticket. That is, each school invited to WE Day has to participate in one positive action for their community. You can’t buy your way into WE Day, you have to earn it.

Here are some words of wisdom from the biggest fence-jumpers I have ever witnessed.

Martin Luther King III

Human rights advocate and eldest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This was by far my favorite talk. MLK III opened WE Day and spoke of his father who dreamed of a nation where kids wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin but by content of their character. “What can you do to make our world better? Will you be like a thermometer or a thermostat? A thermometer only records the temperature. But a thermostat, ahhh, if it’s too cold or warm, you turn it up or down. A thermostat regulates the temperature. Will you just record what happens to you or will you be part of REGULATING what happens to you?” he asked.

He told the children they MUST figure out their calling. As Abraham Lincoln said: Whatever you are, be a good one. “If you are to be a street sweeper- go sweep the streets like Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep the streets so well, that people will say: here lived a street sweeper that did his job so well. Be the best of what you are, no matter what that is.”

He went on to say, “If my parents were alive today, they would be involved with Free The Children and WE Day, no doubt. ” He was powerful and inspirational.

Craig Kielburger

Co-Founder of WE Day and Free The Children

The world needs everyone to help. We have big challenges. In Canada, 1/3 of all teenagers are being bullied. 57 million children are not in school. A spark has a ripple effect. That’s how a movement begins. Two or three people committed to making a difference. It seems small. But then one person tells a friend and it spreads person-to-person. A spark turns into a spreading flame. And light grows. That is how change occurs.” -Craig Kielburger

I had the opportunity to interview him. What an honor.

 Ariane Fortin

Two-time World Champion boxer and six-time Canadian National Champion

If you have a dream and goal, and don’t have a female role model to look up to, don’t get discouraged. Don’t decide not to pursue that dream. Instead, be a pioneer. So that when the next generation comes, they’ll have YOU to look up to. Do what you love and never let anyone dissuade you.” ~Ariane Fortin

Ashley Iseroff

Former Deputy Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees

I have dedicated my life to helping people. At 12 years old, my 7 year old brother got hit by a garbage truck. He was in the ICU in a medically induced coma. A week later, he lost one leg. But he used his talent to share a message. At 7 years old, he decided he wasn’t going to give up. No matter what you’re going through, don’t allow circumstance to dictate what you are capable of doing. Rise up. My brother now sings. He also won a Juno award. Never give up,  believe in yourself, and never let an older person tell you you’re too young.” ~Ashley Iseroff.

Spencer West

Author and double amputee who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on his hands and in a wheelchair in June, 2012

They said I would never walk. I’d never be a functioning member of society. I refused to listen to them. I got mad first, and then I did something about it. Last year, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on my hands. It was an epic journey. I am a big advocate of education, because education breaks the cycle of poverty. Kids are still denied access to education. To me that is unfathomable. I’m proud that we’re helping build 200 schools around the world.”

Mylene Paquette

First Canadian woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone

I had always wanted to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. So, why did I do it? Because I was afraid of the water. When you decide what you’re going to do with your life, have the courage to tell everyone. Then go one step at a time. I wanted to abandon my dreams many times. But there were many people counting on me. What has helped me get through tough times, is by always finding ONE good thing in every bad moment. Those are the lessons and reasons that keep you going.” ~Mylene Paquette

Donisha Prendergast

Filmmaker, actress, dancer, poet and Bob Marley’s granddaughter

Are you ready to be the light in the darkness? We need to heal ourselves before we can heal the world. You need to love yourself first. Love and hate are a beast and the one you feed, grows. I am light. I am love. I am committed to the art of One Love, as was my grandfather. We live in a world filled with problems, but we also live in a world filled with problem solvers.” ~Donisha Prendergast

Molly Burke

Visually impaired and speaks out on bullying

I became blind at 14. My world just went black. My best friends turned against me. I was the victim of bullying. They called me Blind Girl, useless, hopeless. The educators told me: Girls are like that, just ignore them. But I couldn’t ignore them. I started to FEEL useless and hopeless. Girls would say to me: Why are you so depressed? Just get over it! But If you’re being bullied, no one HEARS your pain. But I am here to tell you, if you reach out, someone will listen to you. For me it was my music teacher. I was broken and bruised, but now I’m a warrior. Words can tear us down, but they can also build us back up. It gets better. Today people call me a different name- not loser, not pathetic, not Blind Girl. Today people call me ‘friend.'” ~Molly Burke

 Luca “LazyLegz” Patuelli

Motivational Speaker and performed at the 2010 Winter Paralympics opening ceremony

My motto– No excuses. No limits. When I say EXCUSES, you say NO LIMITS. You like my gangster walk?! We are often our own worst enemies, and we create our own limits. But we can’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way.” ~Luca Patuelli

Chris Tse

Inspirational Speaker on Education

My mom wouldn’t let me watch cable TV, but she never gave me a hard time when I had a late library fee. She called it a deposit on my education. Education is everything.” ~Chris Tse. Loved that!

Hannah Alper

Youth Speaker and also the daughter of my friends Candace and Eric Alper

GIRLS MATTER. We’ve learned that from Malala. There is no can’t. No won’t. Only how.” ~Hannah Alper 

There was so much more inspiration, but I will simply direct you to www.WeDay.com to learn more. As I said above, it was magical to be in the company of such brave fence-jumpers.

There are the sayers, and there are doers in this world. I think we can all be doers if we just take that first step. If we just start somewhere. Anywhere.

sitting on the fence



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