More than 20,000 enthusiastic students and teachers filled Rogers Arena today, as Premier Christy Clark joined world role models Kofi Annan, Martin Luther King III as well the Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire for We Day in Vancouver.
"By standing up for what we believe in and doing the right thing, we all have the power to make the world a better place" said Premier Clark. "We Day is a demonstration of that power."
This past spring, the Ministry of Education gave a $200,000 grant to Me to We and its charity partner Free the Children. With some of that funding, through ERASE Bullying, the Province has launched Me to We's new Stand Up! leadership program in 10 middle and secondary schools in Northern B.C. Three hundred students are participating in a series of activities where they are encouraged to discuss openly issues in their school communities such as racism, hurtful use of social media, cliques and stress.
Students said Stand Up! has helped them build confidence and given them the courage to speak up and develop action plans to make a difference in improving the climate and culture in their schools.
The other half of the grant supports Free the Children's We Day. We Day Vancouver is an annual event that celebrates B.C. youth who are leading positive social change locally and internationally. The goal of We Day is to inspire youth, so they can share with their classmates what they learn, and participate in social initiatives in their schools and around the world.
Before the stage lit up for We Day, Education Minister Peter Fassbender and Parliamentary Secretary Jane Thornthwaite attended the Educational Partners Breakfast with school officials and education partners. Hosted by Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, the breakfast honoured educators who work to support social activism in their schools.
"One of our key goals in transforming B.C.'s education system is to strengthen the link between what children learn in schools and what they experience outside of the classroom," said Fassbender. "Me to We and Free the Children help us achieve just that, by giving students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to help people down the street or around the world. The ministry is delighted to support this very worthy cause."
"Our mission is to empower young people so they can achieve their fullest potential as global citizens. More than 800 schools in B.C. are participating in our movement and we couldn't have done this without the support of our sponsors, students and teachers," said Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children. "The Ministry of Education shares our belief in youth. We want to thank the ministry for their continuous contribution to We Day and to social justice campaigns in schools."
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