By KAREN HAYNES
They came from over 200 southern Ontario schools and returned home inspired to change the world.
In its fifth year, We Day, an annual youth empowerment event, will travel across Canada and bring together over 62,000 students in Vancouver, Toronto, Waterloo Region, Winnipeg and Montreal by March 2012.
We Day in Waterloo Region inspired over 6,000 students at the Kitchener Auditorium on Nov. 16 who learned about the world’s most pressing issues, including world droughts, human rights, child soldiers, Canada’s Aboriginal people and HIV-AIDS, and how they as a collective group have the power to make a change.
The power of “we,” thinking and acting as a group, was the thread that knit together each speaker and entertainer of the day.
“You are the architects of the future. You are the title generation that will change the course of history,” said Mia Farrow, actress, activist and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, as she supported the cause of refugees in countries struggling with conflict.
Students were encouraged by the event’s organizers, Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of international children’s charity, Free the Children, to return home and participate in the We Schools in Action program.
Last year students involved in the program raised $2 million to support local initiatives and $3.4 million to support global causes, said the Kielburger brothers.
Looking forward, motivational speaker Spencer West, who learned to walk on his hands after losing his legs at the age of five, challenged the students at the Aud to redefine what’s possible.
“I stand here as living proof that we can redefine what’s possible,” he said. West plans to climb Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, with two friends in June 2012.
The day’s keynote speakers included Magic Johnson and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire and featured entertainment by Shawn Desman, Neverest and The Midway State.
The event was primarily sponsored by Research in Motion and had free admission.