We Day 2015
It’s just past 9 am on a Tuesday morning. Usually I’d just be crawling out of bed, one of the many perks of being an online student. But instead of I am in Downtown St. Paul at the Excel Energy Center surrounded by over 20,000 people, most who fall under the age of 18. Is this some weird impromptu One Direction concert you may ask? By the energy and excitement these kids are radiating one might think so…but no, Harry Styles is not present. Instead a male duo graces the stage, but they’re not here to sing, Craig and Marc Kielburger are the founders of Free The Children. This my friends, Is We Day.
How does one gain entrance to this star studded event? With performance ranging from Oscar winning actress, Marlee Matlin, to heartthrob Darren Criss, you’d expect a hefty price tag. In reality though, this event is completely free to all students. This kids earned their way in. By participating in one local and one global charitable project, students secured their seats at We Day. But their contributions go far beyond the desire to just be here today, these kids have a genuine interest in stopping world poverty. No easy task of course, but they’re up for the challenge.
I had the chance to speak with lovely students that day, both of which actually attend the same high school as me. The first was Jordan, 15, of Waconia. She’s a freshman, but is already thinking far ahead.
“I definitely know I want to get my nursing degree. People had asked me, why not go into non-profit, so I’ve actually been thinking of still going for my nursing degree but then I want to, if I could, do something with Free The Children, while being a nurse. I’d love to be able to do both. Still helping both sides, both people, while still doing something that I love.”
When asked about how parents could inspire and instill similar goals and motivations in their children, both students had the same conclusion. It should be enjoyable and fun. Just like We Day.
“If you tell kids that they have to do something, like you won’t have a choice, without explaining the importance behind it, they’re going to resent it.”
Makarena had a similar response.
“It’s really about letting the kids find what is important to them, and then investing in that. Do they connect with the homeless, and the idea of stocking food shelves? Then let them do that. You don’t need to push them in one certain direction, they’ll find it, then your job is to help facilitate that.”
Through out the day speaker after speaker came on stage, and the response was nearly always the same, supportive, and filled with palpable excitement. If any adults had doubts about this generation, the seemingly “self obsessed, selfie” generation, all they have to do is come to this day and talk to these kids. I think Henry Winkler, best known for his iconic role The Fonz, summed it up pretty nice.
“You have greatness within you. You just have to figure it out and give it to the world.”