Free The Children

Free The Children

September 29, 2009 17:19 ET

16,000 Youth From Across North America Commit to Global Change in 2010 at Free The Children's We Day

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 29, 2009) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available via Marketwire on the picture wire of The Canadian Press.

Today the world's leading activists, performers and speakers collided with 16,000 roaring student leaders from nearly 1,000 schools, at General Motors Place for Free The Children's annual event - We Day. The world's largest youth empowerment event of its kind was opened by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada. This grand event also brought together an all-star line up including, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Nobel Laureate, Betty Williams, actress and activist Mia Farrow, entrepreneur and philanthropist Brett Wilson, musical sensations Jason Mraz and K'naan and many more who led the electrified crowd in a youth-driven rally for change. Lorne Segal, President of Kingswood Properties and Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade is the We Day Chair and has been the driving force behind Vancouver We Day.

We Day is an annual celebration of the power of young people to change the world, and if today was any example of what's to come, the world better be prepared for the transformation.

Students and educators left We Day with fresh inspiration and a renewed passion to create a better world and given the tools necessary to make this change a reality. Over the next year these students will organize their own action plans for change both focused on local and global challenges. By volunteering within their school community, or by setting a fundraising goal for Free The Children's Adopt a Village program, the students will learn about some of the world's most pressing issues and will be able to see the benefits of their efforts within the school year.

This powerful day marked the unveiling of Free The Children's 10 by 10 campaign - a challenge to the audience and the rest of the world to fully develop 10 communities in the developing world and volunteer 1 million hours of personal time by the end of 2010. Meeting this challenge would provide education, health care, clean water and sustainable income to over 100,000 people throughout the developing world and provide much needed community involvement and support throughout North America.

The campaign is a powerful testament to the youth's potential for change. Not only will We Day spread this message to reach over 1.5 million students, an online component will also open a forum to citizens worldwide who are also encouraged to submit their own 10 personal commitments to create social change in 2010 at giveyour10.com.

To help jump start this global call-to-action, Jessi Cruickshank, MTV pledged to auction off her favourite custom, designer dresses worn at The Hills finales with all proceeds going back to Free The Children, while former child soldier Michel Chikwanine committed to spreading the We philosophy for the rest of the year and Raymond Ablack from the cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation, committed to making it a point to compliment someone every day for their work.

"Today we ignite a commitment to change in 2010," said Craig Kielburger, Co-Founder of Free The Children. "These incredible young people are the generation we have been waiting for. They have the skills, conviction and passion to make very real local and global impacts. If every student in every school at We Day donated $10, we would meet our 10 by 10 challenge of developing 10 communities three times over."

As in previous years, We Day was made available at no cost to students and educators through the generous support of sponsors including National Bank Financial Group, the event's title sponsor.

"National Bank Financial group is proud to sponsor We Day for a third consecutive year," said Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Bank Financial Group. "In these challenging times, we cannot lose sight of the importance of events like We Day. The choices of these young people are shaping our future: they are our economists, environmentalists and catalysts of change in years to come."

We Day momentum continues to sweep the country, with an event taking place in Toronto this Monday, October 5. Multi-platinum recording artists Hedley will lead an impressive program that includes the Right Honourable Paul Martin - Canada's 21st Prime Minister; environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr.; Nobel Laureate and humanitarian Elie Wiesel; and many more.

Tune in to CTV on Saturday, October 10 at 7 p.m. ET (visit CTV.ca for local broadcast times) for a prime time special that will showcase highlights from both the Toronto and Vancouver We Day events.

For more information on We Day or to download images from the event please visit: http://www.freethechildren.com/weday/pressroom.php.

About Free The Children

Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international child rights activist Craig Kielburger, Free the Children has a proven track record of success. Through the energy and passion of youth, Free the Children has built more than 500 schools around the world and it provides education for 50 000 children everyday. The organization has received the World's Children's Prize for the rights of the Child (also known as the Children's Nobel Prize), the Human Right's Award from the World association of Non-governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnership with leading school boards and Oprah's Angel Network. For more information please visit www.freethechildren.com.

Contact Information

  • For more information or to speak with someone directly,
    please contact:
    Free The Children
    Angie Gurley, PR Manager
    416-432-9291
    angie@freethechildren.com