David Thompson Secondary School leadership class students rallied their peers on Thursday, April 25th, organizing a Mini We Day in an effort to inspire positive change.
Most students in the leadership class had been to Alberta’s first We Day in Calgary last October, coming away inspired and wanting to share their experience with the rest of their school.
The We Day in Calgary was an educational event run by the international Me to We organization (and the affiliated Free the Children charity), non-profit groups founded by Ontario-born brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger in 1995 after Craig (12 years old at the time) read a newspaper story about 12-year-old Iqbal Mashi, a Pakistani boy murdered after speaking out against child labour.
The Mini We Day at David Thompson Secondary School featured a Napoleon Dynamite skit, dance routines, a spoken word anti-bullying poem, presentations and Spencer West, a motivational speaker who had his legs amputated at age five because of a genetic disorder, but who has gone on to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and to work for Me to We.
About 400 students and staff in the school‘s gym hung off Mr. West’s every word, as he described spending eight days walking on his hands up and down the snow capped, rock-strewn mountain.
“I really handed the organizing over to the kids; they did everything,” said Alison Bell, the school’s chef training instructor. “It’s going to be the start — and continuation of — some really good initiatives at the school.”
The school has already adopted a village in Haiti through Free the Children’s Adopt a Village program, something Mr. West found impressive.
“I am really inspired by what you are doing,” he said.
“It was pretty awesome that we actually pulled it off,” said Ella Swan, one of students who spearheaded the event. “It was definitely a lot of effort.”
But according to Ms. Swan, the hard work was rewarded.
“We got the biggest reaction I’ve ever seen at an assembly,” she said, adding that all the Grade 12 students attended, something that doesn’t always happen at other assemblies.
“We are elated by how things turned out,” said Miranda Raven, another student leader of the event.
“I have heard from many of my peers that they were inspired and that was all I wanted to do.”
Letting students know they can have an impact on their community is important, since many teens feel they don’t matter much when it comes to affecting change, said Ms. Raven.
“We wanted to show them it’s okay to be passionate about something, it’s okay to have your own voice and that, in fact, they should be shouting from the rooftops if they believe in something,” said Ms. Raven.
Written by reporter Steve Hurbecht