The First We Day
Free The Children was founded on the understanding that by awakening the spirit of volunteerism in young people, anything is possible—injustices can be stopped, our local and global communities can be transformed for the better, and hope for the future can be sustained. Based on the belief that young people can create change, the We Day movement was born. Fueled by the desire for change, and the hope that the world can be a better place, We Day is the call that brings a generation together—dedicated to educating, engaging and empowering socially conscious youth to become agents of change. In 2007 at the first We Day, 8,000 youth came together at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum to discover new passions, learn about the world around them and celebrate their successes. We were thrilled and humbled by the event and hopeful about the future. But we never dreamed We Day would grow into what it is today—the movement of our time.
The Evolution of a Movement
Since then, We Day has inspired hundreds of thousands of youth and is helping build a community of young people dedicated to volunteering and active citizenship. A year-long program that accompanies We Day, called We Act, provides the forum and resources for young people to sustain the inspiration, excitement and energy from We Day. Schools and youth groups register to participate in We Act, which is a free, educational program. Their registration serves as a “ticket” to We Day. Once they register, schools commit to take one local and one global action that year. Through We Act, schools receive curriculum-based resources, campaign materials as well as year-round personal support from one of Free The Children’s educational programming coordinators. The impact of We Day and We Act doesn’t stop at young people and educators. At Free The Children, we know that family members are the greatest mentors in a young person’s life. We have also seen the power of employee engagement through non-profit involvement within corporations. That’s why we’ve expanded We Act to encompass everyone who harbours a sincere desire for active citizenship and civic engagement. We Act enables everyone to get involved.
Through Free The Children’s Adopt a Village development model, we implement holistic and sustainable development projects through five key pillars: education, health care, alternative income, food security, and clean water. As a result, we empower children and families in developing communities to remove the barriers to education and break the cycle of poverty. To deepen the lasting impact and create systemic change, we link students and supporters in North America and the UK with a sister village in a developing community to nurture global understanding, and support children overseas. Students at home learn about their adopted village, and fundraise to support a specific project in that community within the five Adopt a Village pillars. In a spirit of transparency and to deepen education and nurture friendships, supporters can even travel to visit and volunteer in an Adopt a Village community.