WE Day, a massive initiative of Free The Children, came to Toronto earlier today and with it superstar celebrities like entertainer and event host Demi Lovato, musical acts Nick Jonas, Carly Rae Jepsen and Hozier, and former basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who were all there to salute the many young people who made a difference in the last year.
Taking place at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, upwards of 20,000 students from across Ontario were invited based on their charitable giving to the day's events which were streamed live via MTV Canada in order to celebrate "the remarkable stories of people leading change."
We Day takes place in cities throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in the UK: Vancouver, Oct. 21; Alberta, Oct. 27; Minnesota, Nov. 3; Ottawa, Nov. 10; Manitoba, Nov. 16; Atlantic Canada, Nov. 27; Montreal, Feb. 22 (EN) and 23rd (FR); Saskatchewan, March 2; We Day UK, March 9; Califonria, April 7; Seattle, April. 21; and Illinois, April 28.
The WE movement's mission is about shifting the focus for youth from "me" to "we" through participating activities that promote social change. Last year, over 930,000 youth from partnered WE Schools took steps to improve the world through volunteering 1.86 million hours for local and global causes and raising $3.9 million in support of local and global organizations, according to WE.
"WE Day inspires students to stand up and take action on the causes they care about most," said Demi Lovato in a media release before the event. "We get so much more from life when we take care of each other, so I’m honoured to host WE Day Toronto and be a part of such a special day that unites and empowers thousands of young leaders on their journey to make the world a better place."
WE Day co-founder Craig Kielburger reinforced that sentiment.
"We believe that, if given the right tools, today’s youth can conquer anything they put their minds to. Annually, 200,000 students coast to coast, from over 10,000 schools, earn their tickets to WE Day by creating tangible benefits for their communities," added Kielburger. "By bringing together 20,000 young change-makers today, these students will know that they’re not alone and that collectively, they are making their voices heard."
A big part of WE Day's mandate is to put the people who've created change on the same stage as the celebrities.
For example, Leanne Prendergast, who co-authored the book Getting to Know Me, Love Our Lives: Girls Empowering Girls Into Action with her older sister Laurece, and also co-founded the anti-bullying group Love Our Lives, explained to the ACC audience what she's doing to make a difference.
"Love Our Lives knows that bullying can break down someone's self-esteem," Prendergast said. "And that's why we foster an environment where girls can learn to accept themselves as well as help one another. Through Love Our Lives we are able to share our stories, our experiences and we want to be able to build a community where young girls feel they have an environment where they can thrive."
Lovato, Jonas and Jepsen were far from the only high-profile people to make appearances at WE Day Toronto. Pop acts Shawn Mendes, Francesco Yates and Hedley, dance artist Kiesza, rapper Kardinal Offishall, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev and three-time Olympic medalist Silken Laumann also made appearances.
See what past speakers and performers have said about WE Day:adidas Yeezy 350