November 7, 2014 7:30 pm
Updated: November 10, 2014 12:31 pm

We Day creating compassionate Saskatchewan youth


Watch above: The enthusiasm of empowerment at We Day

SASKATOON – The energy was electric as 15,000 youth and educators from throughout Saskatchewan gathered at SaskTel Centre for We Day.

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“We’ve done shows, opened up for Snoop Dog and we’ve done our own headlining shows in our city that have so much energy but the We Day energy is 15,000 young, inspired kids that are willing to give it 100 per cent because they want to be there because they’re inspired by music, they’re inspired by the culture of everything that’s going on around this event,” said Son Real, Canadian hip hop artist.

Other artists agreed, for Nikki Yanofsky this will be her fifth We Day.

“There’s nothing quite like the energy you get from 12 to 15,000 kids that earned their way there by making a difference in their communities and in the world,” said Yanofsky.

“I still become inspired because these kids are so young and they want to be part of something positive which was amazing and I just said like I wish there was something like this when I was in high school or elementary school there was nothing like this so really they’re giving to me as much as I’m giving to them whether they know it not,” added Shawn Desman, Juno award-winning recording artist who has hosted and performed in 20 We Days.

The event, launched in 2007, is attended annually by more than 200,000 students from over 8,000 schools. It’s also a growing phenomenon debuting in both California and the United Kingdom last year.

Local students say they liked the dancing, the music, the energy and the uplifting messages.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about empowerment and just have a good time doing it.”

The educational event is the movement of this generation and is aimed at inspiring them to turn their passion into action.

“Passion and persistence fuels performance and that really our ability to go ahead and do things to achieve our dreams is all about our commitment and sometimes it doesn’t always work out, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn,” said Dave Williams, a Canadian astronaut and doctor who told the students about how he persevered after not being accepted into medical school the first time he applied.

“Youth get a bad rap, outside of We Day and these types of events they’ve got a bad rap but then you come to an event like this and you realize that the future, them, the future’s bright and it’s a beautiful thing,” said Neverest, an MMVA- nominated Canadian pop-rock band.

“I think what’s happening now is we have so many tools that are made available to the kids, they have a lot more power, a lot more reach and what they say actually matters a lot more than years before so I think that’s probably why we underestimate them but I think we were very wrong for doing that,” said Kardinal Offishall, award-winning rap artist.

Since 2007, youth involved in student-led campaigns – We Act – have raised $45 million for over a thousand causes and volunteered for more than 14 million hours for both global and local causes.

“Eighty per cent of the alumni who have left the program keep volunteering every year, 83 per cent keep giving to charity but my personal favourite was 79 per cent voted in the last federal election if they were over 18 so the spin-off is raising a generation of local and global citizens,” said Craig Kielburger, international activist and co-founder of We Day.

“We want kids to realize that together we can change the world and also that we have a responsibility to try to make our communities and our nation a little bit of a better place.”

“Me to We” is a message not lost on these youth as many have already started to lead change including Jayden Thomasgard.  The Grade 8 student has started to volunteer at Ronald McDonald House and has donated money to the Women’s Interval Transitional Centre.

“They’re just ordinary people just like me, they’re up on the stage talking and that just made me think that I could do it to.”

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