by Alana Routhier – Special to Sylvan Lake News
H. J. Cody Interact Club members joined 20,000 youth from across Alberta at Calgary’s Saddledome to hear many inspirational speakers at We Day (part of the Free the Children’s Me to We initiative), Oct. 24.
Martin Sheen encouraged them to avoid apathy at all costs by getting involved and making a difference in their communities and their world. A passionate advocate for taking action, the We Day veteran encouraged everyone to find something in their life worth fighting for. “We don’t do great things,” he told the enraptured audience, “Only small things with great care.”
Larry King described his interviews with Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela in addition to sharing a story about how prejudice can cause a great deal of pain. When asked what perspective he could share from his more than 50,000 interviews, King said, “All of the civil rights movement leaders had one thing in common — perseverance. And that’s what you have here today. You don’t give up. And you get a lot when you give. So keep on giving.”
Spencer West, who doesn’t have any legs, inspired students with his story of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with his hands. During his speech, Spencer announced his next challenge — he will walk 300 km. from Edmonton to Calgary with his two best friends in early May to spread his inspirational message and support Free the Children’s Water Initiative. Schools, individuals, and corporations will be able to donate and sign up to support Spencer’s walk – and even walk alongside them.
Liz Murray who is famous for going from Homeless to Harvard, described how she was born with drugs still in her body, but through sheer determination and the help from people in her community was able to overcome all obstacles and eventually graduated from Harvard.
Equally powerful was the silence that accompanied Me to We speaker Molly Burke’s speech. A passionate activist against bullying, Molly mesmerized the crowd with her moving story. “I found my voice. You have your voices too. United, we are one voice.” She encouraged everyone in the crowd to stand together this spring for We Are Silent, and show the world the power we have to stand up for those without a voice.
There was still another inspirational young woman to meet: Ashley Calllingbull, who overcame incredible adversity to become a social advocate and the first First Nations woman to hold the Miss Canada title. “I hated my life,” she said. “But something clicked inside me. I started thinking positively, focused more on my education. I worked hard every day of my life to become the person I wanted to be.”
International activists and founders of Free The Children, Craig and Marc Kielburger, shared the many ways that we can take action this year, and encouraged students to work together to create change. You can learn all about the new WE-themed campaigns from Free The Children at www.freethechildren.com.