During my last trip to Seattle, I had a chance to attend We Day Seattle at the Key Arena. We Day is a very unique event that is part pop concert and part inspirational seminar. We Day is an initiative started by Free The Children that aims to mobilize and motivate young people to make a difference in the world. You can’t purchase a ticket to We Day; tickets are earned through community service.
Now, I have to admit, many times when adults try to get young people motivated about a cause, it can seem out of touch or a little cheesy. What amazed me about We Day was how on-point the event was, both in planning something that was both compelling and genuinely cool for young audiences and also respected their intelligence. When we walked into Key Arena, the excitement and energy was palpable: Thousands of high school kids were dancing and singing along to music in anticipation of the show starting.
To kick things off, Free The Children founders Craig and Marc Kielburger gave the audience an inspiring pep talk about making a difference. They talked about the way today’s teens are often dismissed as being self-absorbed slackers, and how unfair this is. Craig Kielburger has not forgotten what it’s like to be young, as many people my age seem to: He began this initiative in 1995 at 12 years old by taking a trip through South Asia in order to learn more about child labor. He met other children who were forced to work in deplorable conditions and spoke to them about their lives and experiences, including one girl whose “Job” was to take apart used hypodermic needles. This organization, founded by one motivated 12 year old, has grown into an international charity that has made a big difference in the world and shown young people that they can be a powerful force for good.
This kicked off a day filled with talks from some of the most inspirational people around. We heard from so many incredible young people with remarkable stories of overcoming adversity and making a big difference in the world, including 2014 Imagine Cup finalists AfriGal Tech. These four young women created an app called mDex that can actually diagnose sickle cell, which they developed as a solution to the lack of access to diagnosis centers in Uganda. I had the opportunity to meet with the AfriGal Tech team at the Microsoft Campus the day before We Day, and they are truly remarkable people; they spoke about the devastating affect of sickle cell and how witnessing this inspired them to begin this amazing project.
The lineup of speakers was incredible; I was inspired and moved to tears a few times. The talks were broken down into general categories of social problems and potential solutions, packing in a lot of information and food for thought.
The talks were interspersed by musical performances and appearances from a slew of celebrities. I have never heard a crowd scream louder than when Macklemore made a surprise appearance to introduce Pete Carroll and the Seahawks! The atmosphere at We Day really is special and it was my privilege to be able to witness it first hand.
We Day events take place across the US, Canada and UK; but if there’s not a We Day happening near you, never fear – you can tune into ABC tomorrow, August 21st to watch We Day live, hosted by Selena Gomez. The show starts at 8 PM PT/ET, 7 PM CT – you won’t want to miss it! And stay tuned tomorrow when I’ll be sharing more about We Day and how you can get your children involved.