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Local students will be among 15,000 at We Day
Enumclaw students are joining approximately 15,000 peers from nearly 400 middle schools and high schools for "We Day Seattle."
The event takes place Wednesday, March 27, at KeyArena.
"We Day" events are designed to inspire young people to tackle social issues, both close to home and globally. Tickets cannot be purchased: participants are chosen to attend based on their proven willingness to address a social issue through the affiliated "We Act" program.
The movement was sparked by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger of Toronto. Craig Kielburger was just 12 years old when he learned of a Pakastani boy who was forced into a labor camp at the age of 4. The brothers determined they could arrive at a way to get other young people to join a social revolution.
Until now, the effort has been strictly a Canadian undertaking, with 23 "We Day" programs so far. Today's event in Seattle is the first in the United States; a second U.S. program is planned for October in Minnesota.
"We Day" counts on star power to fuel the effort and among the famous names attending today's KeyArena mix of performances and presentations will be basketball legend Magic Johnson; actress/musician Jennifer Hudson; actor/activists Martin Sheen and Mia Farrow; Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll plus a handful of Seahawks players; and a roster of pop culture stars more familiar to the teen audience. Also on hand will be Martin Luther King III, eldest son of the slain civil rights leader, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The following was provided by Karl Karkainen, a seventh-grade teacher at Enumclaw Middle School, reporting the involvement at EMS.
Last December, our school learned about We Day coming to Seattle and I was given the opportunity to incorporate the values of We Day into my current leadership class. In order to qualify for We Day, a school must complete one global and one local service project.
For our local project we had the privilege of working with Enumclaw Special Olympics and its “Pack the Gym” event. At this event, students in the Special Olympics programs in both Enumclaw and Auburn get together to play basketball games in front of a cheering crowd. This year, my leadership class was able to help in running this event. We created encouraging posters for the athletes, made flyers to hand out at the door, ran the scoreboard and helped out wherever we could. Our favorite role in helping to run this event was being able to make a tunnel for the athletes to run through when their names were announced. As my students stood there with their arms up in two lines on the gym floor, they got to watch athlete after athlete run through that tunnel with enthusiasm and huge smiles on their faces. We wanted to help make this moment memorable for the athletes. But the evening was memorable for us too.
Another goal of We Day is for students to recognize issues going on around them in their world. We looked at how much we appreciated water and set some goals for cutting back how much water we used on a daily basis. Students learned that in countries like Sierra Leone, getting water is much different than it is here.
My class decided that for our global project, we would raise money to provide clean water in the form of a well to a village in Sierra Leone. We are working with the organization started in 1995 by We Day founder Craig Kielburger, which is known as Free the Children. Students ran an assembly to inform the rest of the student body at Enumclaw Middle School about clean water issues in Sierra Leone. We wanted to let students know that the smallest things can make all the difference. When dropped in a pool of water, even just one penny creates a ripple effect.
Students introduced a change drive with the idea that even pocket change can truly “change” the world. The students at EMS responded to the challenge. By the end of the change drive, EMSstudents raised a total of $2,205.50. Included in this total were over ten thousand pennies.
One of the best parts of this fundraiser is that students didn’t raise money so that their classwould win and be honored as the class that had the most. Our school realized that the winners inall of this would be the children in Africa who will one day in the near future be able to go to awell in their village and be treated to cool, clean water with the money that was raised.
I have seen my students truly care about making an impact on their school, their local community and their world. Count me among the inspired.