If you’ve ever attended WE Day, you’ll understand how powerful and life-changing the experience can be. Started by the WE Movement (formerly Free The Children), WE Day is a full day live event for youth empowerment, a celebration with world-renowned speakers and award-winning performers. You can’t buy a ticket to WE Day, students earn a spot by taking on one local and one global action.
I first attended WE Day last year and was floored by the power of the movement. Founder Craig Kielburger was asked what advice he would have for his 12-year old self, Craig paused and said “You’re never too young to change the world. It was a question when he was a kid, now it’s a statement.” Youth use to be the least likely group to volunteer, that’s not the case anymore – this stadium was packed full of youth are ready and already changing the world.
Spending WE Day with my fellow TELUS Advocates
This year, I attended WE Day Vancouver with my team of TELUS Advocates. This is the 5th consecutive year that TELUS has been the national co-title sponsor, they’ve contributed $17 million to support WE in Canada and around the world. This year, TELUS wants to come together to help kids #RiseAbove cyberbullying. Nearly one in two youth have experienced online bullying in the last four weeks. That’s one too many. TELUS wants to ensure the digital space is a safe place and help put an end to cyberbullying, here are some tips for teens and parents.
Lilly Singh and the power of sisterhood. Photo Credit: @iisuperwomanii
YouTube star Lilly Singh rallied the room around the power of sisterhood, encouraging young women to end the cycle of girl-on-girl hate and instead build each other up. Reflecting back on her school years, she said it was so normal to not like another girl for the silliest reasons, “cause that girl touched the guy I like or that girl wears too much makeup.” Instead of girl hate, share girl love.
Her three tips: 1. Turn jealousy into complement – don’t get bitter, get better, 2. Support other girls – competition doesn’t have to resolve to hate, there can be more than one successful girl, 3. Strangers are sisters, the best way to spread girl love is to make an active effort to befriend other girls.
Flashbacks of growing up, Paula Abdul about to take the stage.
Paula Abdul, the students in the room knew her from So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, but if you grew up in the late 80’s/90’s like me, you probably have vivid memories of dancing to her music videos. Paula shared her story of how her family couldn’t afford dance classes for her as a child, instead of giving up, she offered to clean the studio in exchange for lessons – pure determination. She continued her inspiring story, from her days as a LA Laker girl to choreographing for the Jackson family, including Michael and Janet. She emphasized the importance of staying a student, and reaching and learning, and stretching beyond your comfort zone.
Margaret Trudeau with WE co-founder Craig Kielburger
Another notable speaker at WE Day was Margaret Trudeau, celebrated Canadian, author and mental health advocate and mom to Justin Trudeau. Margaret was very candid about her struggle with bipolar disorder. Her goal: to erase the stigma with mental health. “Mental health is part of our whole health,” Margaret shared, “we together can do it, by ourselves it’s a slowly struggle.”
Syrian refugee and photographer Hani Al Moulia
I was also moved by Hani Al Moulia. The 21-year old Syrian refugee and photographer who lives in Saskatchewan took the stage to share his story of fleeing Syria. Legally blind, Hani told the students “I don’t let obstacles stop me, I go around them.” Since arriving in Canada 15 months ago, Hani has received a scholarship to Ryerson University and joined the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.
As a TELUS Advocate this year I’ll be sharing stories in partnership with TELUS. All opinions are my own.