We Day sees crowd of 6,000 at annual visit to Region

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

Engaging over 6,000 students and educators, the Region of Waterloo played host to the Free the Children annual We Day event last week.

Part-concert, part-social awareness, the event was free of charge for the thousands in attendance.

“We Day is a way to bring young people to celebrate actions and be with other peers that are doing something similar and to learn from one another,” said Dalal Al-Waheidi, the executive director for Free the Children.

“The whole event is incentive and a forum for young people to come together and hear messages of We Day goals,” she continued, “such as promoting local charity work and global awareness of issues such as poverty.”

We Day was again hosted at the Kitchener Auditorium for its fourth annual presentation in Waterloo Region.

It took place on Nov. 20.

One of the volunteers at the event, Brittany Farquhar, believed that being a part of

We Day was important.

“It gives me the ability to work one-on-one with youth, as they are the ones who will be changing the world in the next few generations,” she said. “We Day is great because it is a reward for the gathering of change makers.”

The event showcased performances and speeches from a variety of guests including Martin Luther King III, Nelly Furtado and Spencer West.
Free the Children co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger also participated.

Al-Waheidi explained that having renowned guest speakers helps promote the awareness of We Day.

“We wanted to have different people coming in and speaking to the diversity of the audiences, while being mindful of matters such as gender and ethnic diversity,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on diversity, in terms of the content we deliver, the level of action people can take and also show different role models for young people.”

However, some criticisms have sparked over the spectacle of We Day, arguing that in recent years the event has become more about the publicity and less about the message.

Farquhar maintained that the event is presented in a way that adds to the social awareness We Day tries to address.
“It certainly is a publicity thing,” she admitted.

“But it is that way in order to engage with the youth, along with the educators. It uses its publicity to gain more support in both local and global charities, which then builds on them even more.”

“It helps motivate children to think globally and locally.”

Hannah Alper was also one of this year’s keynote speakers. A 10-year old blogger and motivational speaker, Alper has participated with We Day for several years and has travelled across the country to speak.

She claims We Day is a way to help promote what she speaks about.

“It has helped me with my speaking and my writing,” she said.

“It gives me something to write about and inspires me to continue with what I blog about, such as environment and social action.”

Alper said the ability to speak in front of other youth like her is a continuous learning experience, and one that she has found beneficial. “It’s a learning experience,” she said.

“And I can use information learned by other speakers like Martin Luther King III.”

“Its amazing to be able to speak in front of youth who have taken action and make local impacts.”

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