By Liam Gill
Photos taken by Jack McDonald
On Friday, September 20th, thousands of students from the GTA filled the Air Canada Centre for the 7th annual We Day. Highlighted by celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Imagine Dragons, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Free the Children founders Mark and Craig Kielburger, the event was filled with musical performances and inspirational speeches in an attempt to spark social change in the local and international communities. The initiatives introduced ranged from We Stand Together, aimed at aiding in aboriginal education, to We are Silent, aimed at helping enslaved children in Third World countries. For the 20+ UCC boys who attended, this was an eye-opening event. Despite the large list of celebrities who attended, most boys found the most persuasive speakers to be Martin Luther King Jr III and Spencer West. Unlike the flashy celebrities brought in to attract students, these speakers had true messages behind their words.
Spencer West, who had both his legs amputated as a child, recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands in an attempt to challenge social misconceptions about the limitations of the disabled. His story about his hardships as a child and his goal to change the world was truly inspiring to the 20,000+ students in the audience.
Martin Luther King Jr. III carried his father’s message and dream into the arena where he spoke about equality and the rights of the individual and struggles of the oppressed. He spoke about how we must always fight to do everything to the best of our ability. He claimed that if a man is a street sweeper, he must sweep the streets like Michelangelo paints, like Beethoven composes and like Shakespeare writes, before announcing to the audience: “You are the generation of change and you must dream as my father once dreamed.”
These words and messages have resonated in the students at Upper Canada College and their impact was felt Monday as the Free the Children Club convened for the first time since the event. In future weeks, we hope that this change and these messages will resonate through the school and that more students will step up as we attempt to raise enough money to support Free the Children in their quest to build 200 schools before We Day 2014.