National We Day 2015 is coming!

by DaniGirl on March 27, 2015 · 0 comments

in Life in Ottawa, Life, the Universe and Everything

I posted a rant on Facebook the other day in response to one of those quotey photo card things that basically said “I’m happy my childhood was filled with imagination and bruises instead of apps and how many likes you get on a picture.” The whole sentiment behind it infuriated me – the idea that somehow this generation of tweens and teens are having a lesser childhood because of technology.

My ranty reply said, in part, that the kids I know are far more worldly, empathetic and socially conscious than my generation ever was – and there is no better example of that than sentiment in action than We Day.

National We Day in Ottawa 2014

We Day, in case you haven’t heard of it, is an amazing series of events held across Canada and around the world to inspire youth to create change in their communities and around the world. It’s the love child of a stadium concert and a social activism conference. You can’t buy a ticket to get in, though – admission is free of charge to those students who earn their way in through service. Students commit to take action on at least one global and one local initiative of their choice as a part of the year-long educational intiative called We Act.

I think what most irks me about the patronizing “kids these days” quote I mentioned above is the insinuation that technology is making kids more shallow and somehow lesser people. In fact, kids today are incredibly creative and resourceful and they simply use technology as an extension of that creativity. TELUS, a a proud sponsor of Free the Children and We Day, believes that technology can empower people to make a real difference in the world. That’s why, together with Free The Children, they created We365, a free mobile app that enables youth to use their phones for good and propel social change through the power of technology, every day of the year.

National We Day in Ottawa 2014

The We365 app will help youth do even more to help their communities. Using the app, tweens and teens can rally friends around causes they support, share their accomplishments, and earn badges and points. Parents will also be happy to hear that the app tracks volunteer hours, which can be shared electronically and remove the need to keep track of all that pesky paperwork.

I’m deeply honoured that TELUS has invited me and a guest to attend National We Day in Ottawa next week. There will be inspirational appearances from heroes big and small, global and local: among many others, there will be Marlee Matlin, Kardinal Offishal, Amanda Lindhout, Mia Farrow, Spencer West, Neverest, and Ashley Rose Murphy, whose appearance last year so touched my heart. Born HIV positive and not expected to live more than a few days, then adopted into family of 10 children (eight of whom are disabled or have special needs), Ashley is today an active member of both her school council and a rock band. She’s also a talented speaker and wise beyond her years. One thing she said resonated with me all year: “These are the facts of my life. I can’t change them, I can only control how I live with them.”

Of all the attendees this year, though, I do believe the one I am most looking forward to is one just announced today. I first saw the story of “Butterfly child” Jonathan Pitre last year when the Ottawa Citizen ran a feature with haunting photos of Jonathan by photographer Julie Oliver. Jonathan suffers from an extreme form of Epidermolysis bullosa, a rare skin disorder that causes his skin to blister and tear at the slightest friction. Julie’s photographs were haunting and compelling, and Jonathan’s inner strength and spirit touched my heart. It was wonderful to then see the community reacting to his story, with thousands of dollars being raised for research and support to help those with Epidermolysis bullosa. Even the Sens got into the action, offering Jonathan a one-day ceremonial contract as a scout for the team. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say, and I’m so happy to see him being honoured by the We Day organizers.

National We Day in Ottawa 2014

I’ll be live-tweeting from Canada’s National We Day next Wednesday, April 1. Follow along at #WeDay, and watch the live stream at www.weday.com. And don’t forget to download the We365 app so you can learn from ‘kids these days’ how YOU can make a difference in YOUR community!


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