Friday, November 16, 2012

We Day Waterloo Region

I was honoured to be among the attendees at We Day Waterloo Region this week. For me it was an incredible experience to see and meet students with passion and purpose, students who aren't afraid to stand away from the crowd and fight for others. I had the opportunity to meet students who have already done more as change makers than I have and most importantly, students who were willing to be leaders and start educating their friends and family.

On top of all these fabulous students, I was also given the chance to meet Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children and one of the men who helps these students find the courage to think bigger, to act better and to truly BE the change.

I was playing media for the day, my first experience from behind the scenes. I was astounded by the team supporting the media in the press room. First of all, they fed us. Always important. There was always somebody there with advice, directions and good golly, the press runners even held the door open for me every single time. When I asked if I could have a tour of the concourse and all the student areas, it was given. When I asked if I could possibly meet Craig Kielburger, they made it happen. Then I even asked for extra "We Create Change" bags so I could start my own mini-activists at home on the project and got more than I expected. What an authentically helpful, serving team of individuals, both Free The Children staff and volunteers. You made my first press junket a dream come true for a girl who once dreamed of being a journalist and writer.

Now lets get on to the good stuff, here's just a handful of the hundreds of pictures I took that day.

Media. Just like the big boys (and girls).
Press room. Look carefully and you'll see awesome KW women like Jane Barkley,
Diane Morgan and Jenn Annis. Also awesome but not from KW woman, Candace Alper.

Sydney Brouillard-Coyle starts off the day with her "Prime Minister in 40 years"
speech and gets the crowd off to a roaring start.

"it doesn't matter what age, size or colour you are"

Dr. David Williams spoke of persistence. 
Impossible doesn't exist.
This guy appeared on stage and the crowd went bananas.
Consider yourself warned:

Shawn Desman = kind of a big deal
(also wears awesome shoes and has some great tattoos!)
"Did you know dreams can be real?"
Donisha Prendergast, granddaughter of Bob & Rita Marley,
lights up the stage with an enthusiastic presence.
She sends the crowd off with some key points:
"build your character"
"prepare yourself"
"dreams are sent from the universe for you to manifest"

John Beaucage, Aboriginal Advisor to the Minister if Children and Youth Services and Darren Thomas, a member of the Seneca Nation spoke.

"Each and every day is OPPORTUNITY"

Thorsten Heins, CEO of RIM takes the stage
And pulls Marc and Craig Kielburger in for a hug.
 RIM is the title sponsor of We Day Waterloo Region.
How lucky are we to have this amazing company in our own backyard?

Marc and Craig spoke and I just love this shot, the ridiculously big grin
on Marc's face as he shows off a picture of his wife and new baby.

Spencer West took the stage, to DEAFENING applause and cheers.
If you haven't heard of Spencer, here's the Coles notes:

He's got a dynamic personality and a quick, self-deprecating wit. 
He climbed this "kind of a big deal" mountain last year called Kilimanjaro.
He's raised over $500,000 to bring clean, sustainable water to people in Kenya.
He lost his legs at age 5. 
He acts like he totally forgot that previous fact.
He can inspire a crowd like nobody's business.

Francine Dyksterhuis from RBC spoke and we were treated to a performance 
by ONE DROP, a Cirque du Soleil initiative.
(Sorry! No pictures were allowed during that one!)


Back to the press room, I got a great initiation for my first press conference. 
We press were, well... conferring... when Craig Kielburger entered the room. He stood a few feet away from me and made jokes about how we were just waiting on the President and how he would grace us with his presence shortly.

 The lovely Hannah, from Call Me Hannah
has the rapt attention from all 3 men as she addresses 
"Mr. President" (coached by her grandma).

Poised and easy-going in a way I'll never be.
I'll admit, I'm a little jealous of you Hannah.

 After the press conference I got a tour of the concourse 
and all the student areas.
Thanks to Natalie Herzing for making that happen!


Sadly, since I was touring the building and then taking my 4 minutes with Craig Kielburger, I missed hearing Robin Wiszowaty, the Program Director from Free The Children in Kenya and Maasai Warriors, Wilson & Jackson. Can't wait to see the event aired on CTV on November 24 at 7pm so I can catch up on these speakers!

I got back to the Auditorium just in time to hear Martin Sheen say,

"It is the absolute necessity for healing, justice and mercy 
that unites us."

Mr. Sheen, I don't know if it's your acting skills, your stage presence or your 
unwavering dedication to activism but Sir, you truly do have a voice that could 
and WOULD be heard by the people. 
Ever thought of running for President?

"One heart with courage IS a majority."

Molly Burke spoke of bullying and the loss of dignity.
In the end, those actions helped her find her voice.

"Silence makes people uncomfortable. . . Now is the time to become aware of that uncomfortable silence."

 Liz Murray was one of the highlights of my day, having poured over her book, Breaking Night: My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, several times this year.

"My history does not have to determine my future."

We heard from RIM Build a Village Awards Programs recipients Ganesha and Kaitlyn.

A Bollywood performance that broke the sound barrier when the dancers broke out into a bollywood/gangnam style remix.


 And just when I thought that the crowd couldn't possibly get any louder, Craig and Marc Kielburger came out for their keynote. I've been too busy combing through the photos... was there an earthquake recorded in Waterloo Region yesterday?

A shoutout for the courageous Lydia Herrle.
My heart skipped a beat when I heard 6000 students
cheering at the sound of Nellie McClung's name.
I wish this picture didn't have head shadows in it. Heh, even with the head shadows I love it.
Especially the penny background!
I hope these students pay this much attention in class!

Signs of adorations and promises to be the change after the keynote.

And finally, our last musical performance of the day by These Kids Wear Crowns, playing for their first time at We Day.

I'm sure I'm not the only grown up in the crowd who knew all the words to
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" but knew they didn't learn it from this band!

Oy! What an emotionally exhausting day! Not only the actual event itself but the hours of photo combing and writing of this post. I'll be posting on the weekend with feedback directly from students on what they loved about the event and how you can join in!

No comments:

Post a Comment