ENFIELD: Local students say they feel inspired, excited, and eager to do more after attending WE Day Atlantic, held Nov. 30 at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
Enfield-based Oldfield Consolidated School and Riverside Education Centre in Milford students were among the 10,000 who were celebrating their past year’s accomplishment with a dance-party atmosphere, enough to almost blow the roof of the facility.
Riverside Education Centre students goat-ed their way to WE Day.
“We wanted to start a fundraiser for goats,” said Ava Von Kintzel. “Our goal was to a few goats, but we managed to raise enough money to purchase 43 goats in five days.”
Sydney MacDonald said WE Day was super fun.
“I love the energy that we all have and are giving off,” she said.
Von Kintzel said it was an educational day.
“It was really eye opening to see how many people like us want to help out,” she said.
“I’m glad we have had the opportunity to dot his because not a lot of people do,” added MacDonald. “It’s been very inspiring.”
Both said they liked all of it—and Tyler Shaw, of course too.
Faith Cox and Nate Powell, both students in Grade 6 with teacher Tina Richard at Oldfield, said they got the opportunity by being a local and global change-maker. The class before the two earned their tickets to WE Day.
“It was amazing to get to go,” said Cox. “There were so many great stories, performances, and experiences.
“Going to WE Day means a lot to me because some children don’t have clean drinking water, good health care, or get to go to school. So it really humbles me.”
She said after attending she knows that she can make a difference.
“The best part of the day for me was the stories-stories of encouragement, power, bravery and WE movement,” said Cox.
Powell said he found WE Day was awesome. He said his classmates will be collecting money for our local food bank as well as raising money for a Global cause.
“Attending WE Day means a lot to me because I know that a lot of kids in the world don’t have clean water or don’t have the everyday things in life that are needed,” he said. “I also have learned about children who are forced to go to work when they are young.”
He said messages from the speakers of making a difference no matter your age left an impression on him.
“I took away that we can help everyone around the world no matter how old you are,” he said. “I also learned that it doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s what you think of yourself that matters the most.”
The celebration — held to recognize the achievements the students are making both locally and globally — is put on by brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger.
Students from Newfoundland and Labrador; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; and P.E.I descended on the home of the Halifax Mooseheads for the annual event where students hear empowering stories from the special guests.
Bedford’s Rachel Brouwer was among those who spoke. Brouwer, 16, told the story of her invention of a new method aimed at killing bacteria in drinking water in Africa. It requires no fuel and uses material readily available in third world countries.
“When I was working on my invention, a lot of people didn’t believe I could do it,” Brouwer told the crowd. “They thought I was too young and that it would never work. I just kept thinking about the people I could help and kept trying even when I hit road blocks.”
She had a message for those in attendance.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a difference because of your age,” she said. “Find your passion and stick with it. You could end up changing lives for the better all because you believed you could.”
What WE Day is all about didn’t appear lost on the 10,000 student change-makers. The cheers of eruption for Shaw, who performed his hit song Cautious, and Kissel seemingly backed up that sentiment.
“These young people here at WE Day Atlantic Canada are an unstoppable community of leaders who have shown us that anything is possible when you work together,” said Kissel.
Mya Archibald, a student in Grade 8 at Georges P. Vanier Junior High in Fall River, was one of those students. She said WE Day meant a lot to her.
“I think it’s important that youth know that anyone at any age can make a difference and change lives,” said Archibald. “After seeing and hearing all those stories about young empowered people it makes me feel very inspired, excited, and eager to get fundraising. I’m sure others from our Me-to-We group feel that way too.”
She said Brouwer’s story was one of the highlights of the day for her.
“WE Day was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget,” said Archibald.
The students heard messages from Kerry Kennedy; Tyler Simmonds; Quentrel Provo — the brains behind Stop the Violence in Halifax — Rebecca Thomas; and Samra Zafar, who told her story of being forced into marriage when she was just a young girl.
“Working together we can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance,” said Kennedy, That’s what WE Day is all about. Making a difference. Working together, and speaking the truth to power.”
Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd took her own life after being bullied, told the students to Rise Up against cyberbullying in a poignant message.
“Although she is gone, she is not silent,” said Todd. “She has become a voice of hope and support for those who are hurting. Today, here at WE Day, we carry her voice. I’m working to ensure that no one else will have to go through what Amanda went through.”
Alexandre Trudeau told the young travellers to stay brave and wise as their adventure of life begins.
“Growing up, being strong in this life of adventure, means becoming that fellow human who puts a hand out to help the little stranger passing through,” said the brother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Zafar came to Canada as a child-bride before escaping a decade of abuse, before going on to graduate as a top student at the University of Toronto, where she received a plethora of awards and scholarships.
“Despite what you’re going through, don’t give up,” she said in her speech. “Speak up and break the silence! Work hard for yourself, but remember to pay it forward because there are people that need you to pave a path for them.”
Powell said he was inspired by speaker Spencer West, who lost both his legs from the pelvis down at the age of five, but hasn’t let that stop him. He has tackled challenge after challenge, learning to navigate a world set against those with many varieties of disabilities.
“He is a really amazing person who has not let the challenges he faces slow him down or stop him from making changes in our world,” said Powell.