We Day inspires youth to shift “me” mentality to “we”

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    Dr. Christine P. Oriel

    Filipino-Calgarian youths were amongst a large crowd who were inspired to think about others before themselves as part of a North American-wide movement.

    On November 3, thousands of students and teachers from over 600 schools across Alberta came together at the Scotiabank Saddledome to celebrate We Day, an educational initiative that empowers youth by providing a global platform for social change.

    Organizers say We Day’s goal is to empower a generation to shift focus from the individual “me” to “we” and the power of community. Admission is earned by taking on one local and one global action through volunteer service work.

    “I was unsure about whether I wanted to try it, but my friends strongly recommended it, so I was determined to put in hours so I could go—and it really was a valuable experience,” says teen leadership program volunteer Juancho de Castillo. “The energy is amazing and you learn a lot from the speakers. They inspire youth to create their own change.”

    There were speakers whose message still remains with him, he says.

    “I liked what Spencer West had to say about how in certain situations, you just have to make the best of it and focus on the positives,” de Castillo says.

    de Castillo is eager to attend next year’s We Day.

    Other local Filipino youths were also excited to take part in We Day after spending time helping out others.

    “I volunteer through-out the year, going with my mom when she helps out in the community,” says St. Michael’s student Elisha Caoile, recalling her volunteer work for Operation Pagbangon, a fundraising telethon for Haiyan victims.

    “It was my second year attending We Day and I noticed it’s always very diverse and continues to evolve,” Caoile says, adding there were more guest speakers and performers this year.

    “My favorite was Alissa Reid,” Caoile says. “She’s amazing. Her message is how we can all make a difference in the world, even small differences help to create change.

    “I didn’t have a favorite speaker or performer, the entire We Day as a whole was so fun and entertaining,” University of Calgary student John Ray Dy Buco says. “It’s absolutely amazing. The main message I took home from the experience is: don’t be afraid to be who you are. Ignore the bullies because when you think about it, people who hate to see you happy aren’t happy with themselves.”

    Among the special guest speakers and performers present at the Calgary We Day event were co-founders of Free the Children and We Day Craig and Marc Kielburger, Free the Children ambassador and author Spencer West, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media Steve Forbes, actress Mia Farrow, Canadian Olympian Silken Laumann, rap artist Kardinal Offishall and recording artist Shawn Desman, Alyssa Reid, and JRDN.

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