On October 15, 18,000 young Vancouver delegates, students and activists marked the 15th anniversary of Free the Children at WE Day, held at the Rogers Arena. Since 1995, the organization has built more than 650 schools in developing regions worldwide, educating over 55,000 children each day.
It is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education with more than one million youth involved in programs in 45 countries. The fundraising and awareness campaigns focus on sustainable social change and carry the message that no one is too young to make a difference.
Celebrities, politicians and activists present all day included Founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, Martin Sheen, Rick Hansen, Phillippe Cousteau, V.P. Al Gore and musical entertainers, Headley and The Barenaked Ladies.
In one of the dedicated media interview opportunities, The Afro News publisher Honore Gbedze asked Reverend Jesse Jackson his impression of the role of leadership in our future. Jackson said, “I thought at some point there was a social lag in fighting for social justice, freedom and peace. At some point rights and freedoms were abused and used to measure our freedom to use drugs and to self destruct. Now I sense that youth use social media to vote, and to connect. They want to help in Kenya, in Afghanistan and to do their best in finding meaningful experiences in helping the poor and lifting up the ones at the bottom.”
Jackson warned of the dangers of so few having so much, with “the north-south gap not leading us to having a secure and stable world.”
On the role of celebrities, Jackson cast responsibility and praise for Paul Robson, Leon Bibb, Sammy Davis Jr. Jacky Robinson, Harry Belafonte and many more today. He felt they must use their light to challenge the darkness and to make us all more secure and use their gifts to break through stereotypes, adding information about the human condition and even policies of other nations to our attention.