Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We Day 2011

I remember waking up on November 23rd really early because of the rush of excitement towards an event called "We Day" today. We Day is not only a one day event, it's a chain to making differences everyday to making our community, environment, and the world a better place. It is when not only the 16,000 of those who came to attend the We Day concert help, but for everyone to stand and strive to take action. It is the movement of our time, and a movement where young people like me can lead to global change. Among those 16,000 young kids like me, our school only had to pick 30 students to go, and that included me. These 30 kids are not only responsible for being leaders today, but also to become difference makers tomorrow, and in the future. With the help of speakers like Mia Farrow, Paul Martin, Al Gore, Rick Hanson, Winnipeg's own Hannah Taylor, Michel Chickwanine, Dennis Whiteburg, Sharon Conway, Spencer West, and Craig and Marc Keilburger, we realized several lessons. I think the biggest lesson we were faced to accept was that there is no I won't, I can't, or never, but there is only a "we can" and "we are". We are the children for this future's generation that could stop world poverty, death, lack of education, clean water, global warming, human rights, and many more. One speaker that came was a man named Rick Hanson. Rick Hanson remembered from Mohatma Gandhi that when you pray, use your feet. I think that means when you pray, also remember that change starts with you, and nothing can happen if you don't step up and try. Rick Hanson is also known for being the "Man in Motion" for not only becoming the winner of 19 international wheelchair marathons or because he was a paralympian, but because he wheeled around the world across 35 countries in 1985 for creating opportunities for those with spinal cord injuries since that was the cause of him on the wheelchair when he was just 15 years old. His message to us was that anything is possible. Another speaker that captured my attention was Michel Chickwanine. We all had to be silent for all the children who can't stand up for themselves because of things like exploitation, poverty and the denial of their basic rights. This event is called "The Vow of Silence", when on November 30th, for 24 hours we all have to be silent, and we can't talk. We can't even use twitter, Facebook, text messaging, email, or any other sort of contact towards people. This event is for the children who are denied to speak, and denied their voice. Michel instead of talking, used big cards to tell us his story. He grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Great War of Africa. He faced many problems I can't even handle at a young age like the torture of his father who had only wanted a right to political beliefs, and the rape of his mother. Michel was forced to leave his home as a refugee at only 11 years old. He became a child soldier and was forced to do things he could not refuse. He was even forced to kill his best friend Kevin. One day he was out in the soccer field when he was blindfolded and his wrists were cut with the filling of cocaine and drug powder. When the people who kidnapped him told him to shoot, he found out he shot his best friend, and from then on until he escaped to Kenya, the other child solderers had become his family. Michel is now a motivational speaker un University teaching kids about the lives of child soldiers and teaching us about the Vow of Silence. The Vow of Silence is when we show our solidarity by not speaking for 24 hours for those who cannot speak for themselves because of poverty, exploitation, and disease. When Spencer West came up to the stage, I couldn't help but look up to him. Here he is, talking about all the differences we could make and how he lost both his legs at the age of 5, he used his humour and smiled the whole time. That to me was so beautiful because throughout all the people who thought negative about him and told him he couldn't make a difference, he did. He traveled to Kenya to build a school and he understood that 6 billion people around the world have a different story, and he was amazed about all the different stories in Africa that involved starvation and poverty. One day while he was talking to young children, a young girl raised her hand and told him she didn't know these sorts of things happened to white people too. Because of this, this motivated him to stand and teach people from all around the world that you CAN make a change. That you CAN make a difference. That you CAN start with one hand, and lead to all hands reuniting and taking action. Of course the entertainment in the arena that the band and singers performed were very fun and got us standing up on our feet, but Craig and Marc Keilburger wrapped it up with a message that all speakers had believed, and that was that our generation is hope to a bright future. Our generation could save one less life, and not only become the change we see in the world, but the change that we are. This whole experience made me open my eyes wide, and see things differently. I have come to realize that everyone has a different story and life is too short for us not to make a change. Before I pass away, I want to step out of the world not only feeling good making difference, but because after everything I have possibly done, I would die saving someone. This whole experience changed in and out of me, and I will never forget about this. I will forever remember and continue the chain. Because I will make a difference.

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