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Osoyoos Elementary School students excited about attending 2013 We Day celebrations in Vancouver
Close to two dozen students and chaperones from Osoyoos Elementary School will be heading to Vancouver to participate in We Day celebrations – an event that has become a national and international phenomenon.
Following a presentation Monday by Grade 7 students Sarah Launier and Holly Duguid and their teacher Richard Bayliss, Town of Osoyoos voted to approve donating $500 of the roughly $3,700 it will cost to send 18 students and four chaperones to Vancouver for We Day celebrations Oct. 17 and 18.
We Day is an educational event and the movement of our time – a movement of young people leading local and global change, said Launier.
We Day was created by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, the founders of Free the Children, an organization designed to improve the quality of life for millions of children living in poverty around the world.
“This is a movement among young people … and it’s not just one day, but part of a year-long program,” she said.
More than 20,000 elementary students from across the province will jam into Rogers Centre for the 2013 We Day celebration on Oct. 18, said Bayliss.
After local students attended last year’s celebration, there was remarkable and immediate impact as several student groups were formed to organize fundraising community events, said Duguid.
Some of the projects completed by students at Osoyoos Elementary School within the past few months include a beach cleanup from Legion Beach to Haynes Point Provincial Park, visits to local seniors’ homes to meet with and communicate with local seniors, several fundraising events for the Osoyoos Food Bank and regional Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said Duguid.
“We Day is the movement of our time for young people,” she said.
A total of 50 students applied to attend the We Day celebration this year, but organizers only allotted 22 tickets and only 18 students were selected, said Bayliss.
While some students will be disappointed at not being selected for the trip to Vancouver, the hope is they will become heavily involved in projects to help the community and ensure they get selected next year, said Bayliss.
The itinerary for the trip to Vancouver includes a visit to the Vancouver Science Centre, dinner and a tour of downtown Vancouver on Oct. 17.
Following breakfast on Oct. 18, the students will be taken to the Rogers Centre for “a day of inspiration,” said Launier.
Bayliss reiterated that We Day isn’t about a one-day celebration, but a program that promotes young people making positive contributions to their peers, schools and communities.
“It really is the first day of a year-long commitment to social responsibility,” he said.
To see the reaction of the students who participated in last year’s We Day celebration made him realize how important it would be to allow other students the same opportunity to be part of an emotional and positive experience, he said.
“I look at these children and I see the future leaders of this community,” he said.
Students at the school have been engaged in fundraising events to help pay some of the costs of the trip, but support from council would be very much appreciated, said Bayliss.
Coun. C. J. Rhodes applauded the students for their presentation to council.
“Good for you and way to go because that was a tremendous presentation,” he said. “I’m strongly motivated to help you out and I’m glad you came and talked about this or we would never have known about it.”
Coun. Sue McKortoff agreed and told Bayliss the school should present a proposal as part of council’s budget process to be considered for a stipend through the community grant and aid process to ensure an annual donation by council would allow this school trip to We Day celebrations to continue in future years.
The organization’s website states, “We Day is part of a family of organizations, including Free The Children and Me to We, that has a shared goal to empower a generation to shift the world from ‘me’ to ‘we’—through how we act, how we give, the choices we make on what to buy and what to wear, the media we consume and the experiences with which we choose to engage.”
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 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.
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.