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Young Canadians are creating a better world on Astini News


Sometimes, a shift in perspective can change the world.

It happened in Ireland, where Mary Robinson became the country's first female president. It happened in the United States, where Dr. Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams introduced the power of joy and laughter to heal. And in Kenya, where Grammy-winning singer Nelly Furtado fell in love with a group of students from a tiny village who opened her eyes and heart to Africa.

Today, there are about 18,000 young Ontarians who have a shamelessly idealistic vision for a better world. Tomorrow, they want you to see it at We Day.

We Day is a free event taking place in stadiums in five cities across Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg and Waterloo Region. On Sept. 27, young people who spent their school year campaigning for social change will converge on the Air Canada Centre. They'll hear a line-up of speakers like Robinson and Adams deliver messages of unity and hope, and performers like Furtado celebrate them through music. This year's event is co-hosted by singer Joe Jonas and Vampire Diaries actress Nina Dobrev.

We Day is a program of Free the Children, which was founded in Canada in 1995, and has since grown into the world's largest network of children helping children through education.

This past year, schools across Ontario have been involved in Free the Children's activities. This organization inspires the next generation by providing them with the practical tools to turn inspiration into action. By learning about, and getting involved in, local and global issues, classrooms are placing themselves at the forefront of creating a strong local community and better world.

These students' actions might seem small — an hour a week volunteering at a neighbourhood library, or a community bake sale that raises $150 for a water project in Kenya.

But, if you shift your perspective, you'll see this: over the past year through Free the Children and We Day, these young people have logged 1.7 million hours in community service across Canada. Those bake sales, coin drives and lemonade stands have raised $5.4 million for more than 500 local and international causes. This includes long-term development projects that have already equipped communities in East Africa with the tools to weather the drought.

We Day proves to youth — and those young at heart — that a better world is possible. It's here that you look around and see you're not alone in your commitment to service. As you witness students and educators cheering alongside one another for change, you'll realize their commitment to philanthropy and action will translate into a more caring and compassionate community.

That's the movement of our time — a movement of Canadians coming together for change. Canada should be very proud of its sons and daughters.

We are incredibly thankful to our sponsors for helping to make this event happen, and for showing everyone their place in this movement.

Every day, We Day is active on Facebook, a hub where anyone can make a difference. Because one Facebook 'like' equals one dollar, thanks to generous sponsors, the simple action of clicking a button is your first step in joining the movement and helping others.

As well, is a place where the young and young-at-heart can come together, find family-friendly service action ideas, learn about social issues, and share words of encouragement.

By coming together as Canadians and supporting the next generation of leaders, we can realize our potential to better the world. We can see that vision for the future a bit more clearly.

Marc and Craig Kielburger are children's rights activists who co-founded Free The Children. Their column appears Mondays at

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