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Mini We Day at Burnaby North hopes to inspire
Jennifer Zhang and Cynthia Chiang were so inspired by the We Day events they attended at Rogers Arena they decided to organize one of their own.
The mini We Day they’re hosting at Burnaby North secondary on Friday won’t have the star power of a Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu or Magic Johnson, and there won’t be 20,000 screaming teenagers packed into North’s gym and multi-purpose room, but Zhang and Chiang are hoping their event will be just as inspiring.
We Day is an annual event for youth put on by Free The Children, an international charity dedicated to creating opportunities for young people through active citizenship and child-focused development. The day-long celebrations fill giant hockey arenas across Canada and in Seattle.
The event Zhang, Chiang and the executive from Burnaby North’s human rights club and leadership programs have put together will be on a much smaller scale. Up to 150 students from North, Burnaby South and Mountain secondary schools will spend the afternoon attending workshops to learn about the work Free The Children does around the world to help give kids better lives and how they can get their friends and peers involved through education and fundraising activities like bottle drives, doughnut sales, karaoke competitions.
“We want to get everyone to know what Free The Children is,” says Zhang, who’s in Grade 12. “We’ve already made a big change in our own school, so if everyone brings ideas back to their school, it just creates that much more exposure to more students.”
Two years ago, says Chiang, North didn’t have a human rights club; now there are about 200 members. Last year they raised $1,000 for Free The Children.
Organizing their modest event, which also includes a keynote speaker from Free The Children, and a talent showcase by some students, has given Zhang and Chiang an insight into the massive amount of work that goes into the big-time We Day they’ve managed to attend every year since they were in Grade 10.
They’re hopeful their work will pay off, not only by planting the seed to get involved among students in other schools, but also in the next cohort of North students to carry on after they’ve graduated.
“Sometimes people need that extra boost,” says Chiang.