International Charity Free the Children Launches We Day UK
On Wednesday 22nd January Paddington Academy students helped to launch international charity Free The Children’s global youth empowerment event, We Day. This will be the first time the event, which has been running in Canada and the United States for many years, will be held in the UK.
We Day, which will take place in March in Wembley Arena, will be attended by over 12,000 students and teachers from over 400 schools. It will be a day-long programme designed to inspire students to get involved in positive social change. Students cannot buy a ticket to the event; they have to earn it through making a commitment to undertake at least one local and one global charitable act of their choice as part of the year-long We Act programme. The aim of the event is to unite young people and celebrate the difference they are making through their local and global actions.
To launch We Day, over 300 Paddington Academy students were joined by Holly Branson, Lord Rumi Verjee and Free The Children co-founder Craig Kielburger. The students were also surprised by a special appearance from this year’s X Factor contestant Sam Callahan.
The event began with Jon Coles, Group Chief Executive of United Learning, welcoming the guests and talking about the Group’s partnership with Free The Children. He said:
'As a group, United Learning is delighted to partner Free The Children and to be so closely involved in We Day – which promises to be an inspiring experience for all the young people who have earned their place there. Free The Children’s aims and our own are perfectly aligned so we are delighted to be supporting their work. There are some fantastic charitable and citizenship initiatives taking place across our schools and the support we have had from Free The Children has been invaluable. We look forward to continuing to work with Free The Children and building this relationship further.'
Free The Children co-founder Craig Kielburger then spoke about the inaugural We Day UK and the background of the charity he set up with his brother Marc in 1995 when he was 12 years old. He said:
'When I was young and wanted to make a difference in the world, there wasn’t much out there to support my dreams. I was told I was too young to make a difference. That’s what We Day provides young people today – a platform to learn about local and global issues, take action and celebrate the meaningful contribution they’re making to better our world. We are absolutely thrilled to bring We Day to the UK for the first time and hope with the help of students across the country we can continue to make positive change locally in the UK and globally. I would also like to thank the wonderful teachers and students at Paddington Academy who have done an excellent job in helping us launch the initiative here today in London.'
He then introduced Paddington Academy Year 8 students Yassine Abdul-Wahid and Erika Fejzullahu who spoke about their involvement in citizenship and fundraising initiatives.
Yassine Abdul-Wahid said:
'The best thing about We Day is that it is about any issue that young people care about. The environment, bullying, homelessness, healthcare – it doesn’t matter what the issue is, it just matters that you care. Free The Children believes that whatever your age, and whatever your passion, you can change the world. We agree and we’re so excited about celebrating at We Day UK!'
Oli Tomlinson, Principal of Paddington Academy, said:
'We are thrilled to host the launch of We Day at Paddington Academy. We strongly encourage all of our students to be active citizens and today’s event has reminded us all of the importance of making a positive contribution to our local and global communities. The two students who spoke this morning were a real credit to the academy and we are all greatly looking forward to being a part of We Day itself.'