‘WE’ FEEL THE LOVE

Rogers Place au­di­ence hears speak­ers talk about how to be a force for change

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - JANET FRENCH jfrench@post­media.com

More than 16,000 stu­dents from about 550 schools took part in WE Day at Rogers Place Fri­day. The stu­dents earned their tick­ets to the event through vol­un­teer and com­mu­nity ser­vice. The event con­sisted of ed­u­ca­tional talks, per­for­mances and mo­ti­va­tional speeches.

Eleven-year-old Alyson Nor­man cut her hair off to raise $2,800 for breast can­cer re­search.

Her class­mates at Ecole Sain­tVi­tal in Beau­mont col­lected socks and warm clothes to do­nate to the Ed­mon­ton Emer­gency Re­lief Ser­vices So­ci­ety, 10-year-old Reid Beaulieu said. At Duffield School, 67 km west of Ed­mon­ton, stu­dents held a bake sale to ship eight do­nated com­put­ers to a school in Ape­manim, Ghana.

An es­ti­mated 16,000 Al­berta stu­dents per­formed gen­er­ous acts to earn tick­ets to Ed­mon­ton’s first WE Day, a fast-paced sta­dium show of sto­ries from peo­ple who over­came ob­sta­cles and per­for­mances by pop singers.

Fri­day’s show at Rogers Place arena prompted some of those kids to leave in­spired to con­tinue their benev­o­lent ways.

“I find it in­spir­ing that a lot of peo­ple started very young and they made some­thing big out of it,” said Nor­man, a Grade 6 stu­dent at fran­co­phone school Sain­tVi­tal. “Some­times peo­ple will tell you that you’re too young to do some­thing. But they’re ba­si­cally just prov­ing a point that you can do any­thing, even if you’re 12 or 11.”

The show in­cluded ap­pear­ances by mu­si­cians Keshia Chante, Lights, Shawn Hook, and Scott Hel­man, along­side clean wa­ter ad­vo­cate and the prime min­is­ter’s mother, Mar­garet Trudeau, and mo­ti­va­tional speaker and am­putee Spencer West, who climbed Kil­i­man­jaro on his hands.

Premier Rachel Not­ley told the girls in the crowd they can do any­thing they want to do — be a welder, or the premier of Al­berta.

Be­tween com­mer­cials aired on a large screen and the hosts giv­ing shout outs to cor­po­rate spon­sors, sev­eral young Al­ber­tans also took the stage to share brief sto­ries of how they coun­tered racism or came out as LGBTQ.

Klara Fradette, a 13-year-old Grade 9 stu­dent from Duffield, said she en­joyed the pos­i­tive en­ergy in the room and the noise of the crowd.

“Just to al­ways know that you are good, and you do have po­ten­tial, and you can do what you want to do,” she said. Her class­mate, Ed­die Sch­lenker, 14, said it was an op­por­tu­nity for kids to re­ceive en­cour­age­ment to feel free to ex­press who they are.

Duffield School teacher Jesse Mireault said he en­joys the We Day teacher re­sources, and how they of­fers pro­grams and ideas to en­gage kids to do good in their com­mu­ni­ties and be­yond.

“I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to learn that they are ca­pa­ble of change and they do have the abil­ity to help out when they put their mind to it and they can come up with an idea,” he said.

DAVID BLOOM

PHO­TOS: DAVID BLOOM

Thou­sands of stu­dents took part in WE Day at Ed­mon­ton’s Rogers Place on Fri­day, earn­ing tick­ets through their vol­un­teer and com­mu­nity ser­vice ef­forts.

LEFT: Mo­ti­va­tional speaker Spencer West, who climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro on his hands, gets the stu­dents at Rogers Place pumped on Fri­day with his in­spi­ra­tional story. RIGHT: WE co-founder Craig Kiel­burger takes part in the fes­tiv­i­ties.

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