‘We Day’ 2012 Inspires Compassion and Hope

Today I had the privilege of attending We Day, Free The Children’s annual event aimed at inspiring young people across Canada. This was my second year at We Day, and it was even more inspiring and thought-provoking than the last. I was live-tweeting throughout the day, and you can read my thoughts at @DegrassiOnline.

For those of you who don’t know, We Day is a one day celebration of change and social activism. There are various ‘We Day’s’ across Canada (Vancouver, Montreal, etc.), but today’s massive event took place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Approximately 20,000 young people were there for what organizers describe as “the call that brings a generation together.” Motivational speakers and celebrities appeared alongside some of today’s top musical artists. The goal was to inspire the audience to give back and change the world through a yearlong educational program.

This year performers included Jennifer Hudson who sang an incredible rendition of ‘Hallelujah,’ Nelly Furtado who performed alongside surprise guest K’naan, and future Degrassi guest stars Hedley. But the highlight of the day definitely had to be the speakers. Me to We speaker Molly Burke left the audience speechless as she described a particularly harsh experience with bullying. Canadian MP and future Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau spoke about the difficulties that Aboriginal communities face in Canada. Lieutenant-General The Honourable Roméo Dallaire told the audience the importance this generation plays in stopping the use of child soldiers. And actor/activist Martin Sheen inspired the audience with his words about social activism at any age.

While the cast of Degrassi did not speak on stage at We Day this year, they were in the audience and meeting fans throughout the day! As well, a special video highlighting Degrassi’s recent trip to Ghana was played during the event. The video showed Degrassi cast members meeting the locals in the community and volunteering their time. Sam Earle described Ghana as “rich and beautiful,” and Charlotte Arnold expressed that she feels “re-energized to change my life in a positive way when I get home.” My guess is that these clips were from another Degrassi/Free The Children documentary that we will hopefully get to see sometime soon!

Update: Watch the Degrassi video right here!!

As one would expect from We Day, I left feeling rejuvenated, motivated, and empowered. Degrassi’s involvement with Free the Children has inspired all of us, and I feel like there is so much more that we could do. Throughout the years, Degrassi has taught us valuable life lessons, but their work giving back to the community with Free The Children is perhaps one of the most important lessons of all. There are thousands of Degrassians communicating via Twitter, Tumblr, etc. If we all came together, who knows what our wonderful amazing little fandom could accomplish?

For information on Me to We & Free The Children, visit their websites (FreeTheChildren.com and MeToWe.com). There you can find information on their upcoming campaigns such as We Create Change, We Scare Hunger, We Are Silent and many more. Think about what you are most passionate about, and see how other young people are making real impacts that are tangible and measureable. As Craig & Marc Kielburger would say – you can change the world!