We Day in Waterloo Region draws thousands
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Thursday, February 17, 2011 5:29PM EST
Thousands of students gathered at the Kitchener Auditorium Thursday to hear some inspirational speeches and, organizers hope, to get ready to take action.
Former U.S. vice president and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the founders of Free The Children, Craig and Marc Kielburger were among those in Kitchener, Ont., for the rally for social change called We Day.
Craig Kielburger told the energetic audience "Together we can bring about amazing change from the local to the global."
About 6,000 students from 250 schools in Waterloo Region and Wellington County were in attendance at the one-day event that celebrates the power of young people to change the world.
Excitement filled the auditorium as students were motivated by the speakers and performers, and by each other.
Grade eight student Sean Begy was there, he says "There are so many people that are just inspired by one idea, that's helping kids inspirationally and it just gets people up and into it, really gets them pumping."
Fourteen-year-old Meaghan Campbell adds "I am basically inspired and in shock. It has been great today."
Students were chosen because of their initiative and leadership in making positive change, whether it was in sports, mentoring or fundraising.
With the help of event sponsor Research In Motion, some students also walked away with one of 50 free trip overseas, to volunteer in a Free The Children village.
Mackenzie Schultz was the first ‘Build a Village' winner. She's doing it for an 11-year-old friend who was killed by a drunk driver last October.
Scultz says "She was awesome, she's like my inspiration every day…this is like her dream and for me to be able to go and do this for her it just feels really good."
Organizers say that since 2007, young people who have attended We Day have done two million hours of volunteer work and raised over $10 million.
That work and money has benefited over 500 different charities in communities across Canada.
And they're hoping to raise an additional $1 million in 2011.
The Barenaked Ladies, Stereos, cast members from Degrassi and Canadian singer Shawn Desman also made appearances.
With files from The Canadian Press