Straight off of the inspiration train I come to you with a blog post about my experience as a Crowd Pumper at We Day Toronto.
What is “We Day” you ask?
We Day is a day filled with inspiration, celebration and life-changing speeches by world-renowned speakers and performers, as well as stories from people all over the world about their attempt at making a change. The one catch with We Day is that you can’t buy a ticket. The only way to get a seat is by earning it through fundraising and starting initiatives that create a positive impact toward making a change in our world.
WE is a movement. WE Movement, formally known as Free The Children, was started by a 12-year-old boy who was inspired to work with developing communities to free the children and families from poverty. Over 20 years later, We Movement has now become a global non-profit organization that inspired youth, adults, and families, to get involved within their communities, their nation, and worldwide.
Like I said, I volunteered as a Crowd Pumper. My role was to be energetic and get the audience members participating in key show movements and truly engage in the power that is We Day. As a crowd pumper I got to interact with our nation’s youth, and see how they have helped make a difference in their communities and throughout the world.
As for the experience part of it, I was inspired on so many levels.
First, Penny Oleksiak, the 16 year-old Canadian Olympic medalist. She reminded the crowd how chasing your dreams and never giving up can be done. With heart and passion you can achieve anything as long as you set your mind to it.
Next, YouTube sensation Connor Franta, he reminded the crowd that it’s okay to by yourself, and that society doesn’t rule our choices. As a member of the LGBT community he was welcomed with nothing but warmth by the crowd. Hearing the roar of the crowd made me realize that WE are the generation who is more open and accepting, and ready for a change.
Another great speech was by Margaret Trudeau, the mother of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Before she gave her speech, I never knew that she is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mental health is a common issue experienced among youth today. Her speech emphasized the importance of reaching out for help when having a mental disorder, as well as acting as a support system for those who have a mental disorder. It’s time to break the stigma behind mental health.
Legend Gord Downie’s speech was incredible. He spoke about a family who experienced first-hand the negative and harsh reality of residential schools. Gord brought fourth a mother who’s 12-year-old son escaped from a residential school in Kenora Ontario in 1967, and died of exposure as he tried to walk home. Fact: about 20,000 indigenous students died in residential schools in Canada. That’s the same number of kids at We Day. At the end of Gord’s speech, the mother recited the most beautiful Ojibway prayer while the crowd held hands. I truly had goose bumps.
Among one of my favourite speeches was by a 21-year old man by the name of Hani Al Moulia. Hani was a Syrian refugee who now lives in Canada. Back home in Syria he experienced the death of his cousin and his uncle, so he moved to a refugee camp for temporary safety. At this camp he was introduced to photography, and had the dream of becoming an engineer. However, big plot twist, Hani shared with us that he is legally blind. He captures breathtaking and remarkable images even though he can’t see anything in focus past 10 centimetres of his face. Hani is now living his life here in Canada, has a full-ride scholarship to the University of Toronto for engineering, and earned a seat on the Prime Minister’s Youth council. His story reminded us that “When you lose something, you should work harder and not surrender.”
http://www.cjfe.org/almoulia (link to more about Hani Al Moulia’s story)
Basically, We Day reminded me the importance of not giving up, not losing hope, and how together WE can rise up, WE can stand strong, and WE can make a change!