This Friday I had the privilege of attending We Day in Saskatoon. I had never been before, and had only even heard of this program about a year ago, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I experienced was just fantastic! I was surrounded by 15,000 students who earned their way to the event and were truly passionate about social justice.
There were musicians and dancing, and it was a lot of fun. The crowd was very enthusiastic, and very excited to be there.There were messages of hope and action, and the presenters applauded the teachers and students for stepping up to the challenge of making a difference in the world.
The day was divided into for “class periods” to accompany this year’s theme of The Year of Empowerment: Economic Empowerment, Technological Empowerment, Education Empowerment and Social Empowerment. Each period consisted of stories, ideas and action plans of how Free the Children (the parent company that puts on WeDay) and students can contribute to and support each sector. These actions ranged from collecting $50 in toonies to purchase a goat for a family, to buying Rafikki bracelets to support and empower women in Africa, to putting on bake sales to raise funds, or even raising enough funds to go on a Me to We trip to help communities in need. Each attendee received a great notebook to record thoughts in throughout the day, which also has wonderful quotes, stories and calls to action.
It was great to see how technology was being incorporated into the event! Not only was it one of the “periods,” but they also encouraged everyone to tweet using several #weday hashtags like #changeisinyourhands and #spreadyourroots. They also have an app, We365 that can help students connect with others to create challenges, take action, keep track of volunteering, and much more. The bracelets that each person in attendance received were also embedded with technology. Each bracelet had a code that could be scanned at different kiosks in the lobby to access free downloadable music, take photos, enter contests, and get more resources. I wish I had the chance to check some of them out, but asking 15,000 people to navigate a narrow concourse is rather impossible.
After being at this event it really brought to light some of the amazing things that students can do to share their voice and work towards big changes in our world. I hope to be able to incorporate themes of social justice into my teaching in the future, and let children know that they really can have a voice.
What will you do to promote and encourage social justice in your classroom, in your school and in your community?