TIME For Kids attends a celebration organized by the charity Free the Children, in Toronto, Canada
On September 27, 18,000 enthusiastic kids filled the Air Canada Center, in Toronto, Canada. They came to celebrate We Day, which is an annual event organized by the charity Free the Children, the world’s largest network of children helping children through education. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of global issues, including poverty, and empower youth to lend a helping hand. Each participant earned tickets by volunteering or helping out with Free the Children’s projects.
“We based Free the Children on what we dreamed of doing to help others when we were young,” says Craig Kielburger, who founded the charity at 12.
Many celebrities attended We Day to show their support. The group Kardinal and Classified’s performance of “Oh Canada” and “The Anthem” was just the start of a long list of amazing performers. Nelly Furtado and the Kenyan Boys Choir sang “In the Jungle” and Joe Jonas sang “See No More.”
For Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall, the celebration is about inspiring kids. “We have to show kids that they can use their power and their youth for positive change,” he told TFK.
After her performance, Furtado revealed her donation of $1 million to Free the Children. She said she was inspired to make the donation after a trip to Kenya. Furtado was rewarded with a surprise visit from Susan, a Kenyan girl who she met on that trip.
“Free the Children doesn’t invite celebrities for the day,” Kielburger told TFK. “We want them to go overseas, work on a project, and then come back and spread the message.”
For Kids, By Kids
All of Free the Children’s projects are “for the kids, by the kids,” says Kielburger. Halloween for Hunger asks kids to trick or treat for non-perishable goods for food banks. Vow of Silence is a day without any form of communication to recognize children without a voice.
“It’s impossible to go to We Day and not be inspired,” says 12-year-old Kyle Santia. Kyle has helped organize fundraisers and is starting an Adopt-a-Village program as well. Adopt a Village is a Free the Children program that has provided clean water, health care and schools to 1 million people around the world.
"The fact that these young people are doing such creative and empowering things is amazing,” Joe Jonas told TFK. “They are an inspiration to me."
The message Kielburger wants out? “We’re recruiting!”