The roster for We Day Toronto includes diverse presenters from pop singer Demi Lovato to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The annual event, started in 2007 by Canadian activists Craig and Marc Kielburger, will see 20,000 students and teachers flock to the Air Canada Centre on Sept. 20 to participate in the educational event celebrating youth activism. The Kielburgers founded the Free the Children charity in 1995.
Students can’t buy tickets to the event, but earn their way there by taking part in at least one local and one global initiative.
Similar events will take place in eight other locations across Canada, as well as in two U.S. cities and one in Britain.
“We anticipate them [students] to be excited to hear Demi Lovato, who is right now one of the top youth performers in the world, as they listen to someone like President Johnson Sirleaf speak about issues like development in Africa and women’s leadership,” said Craig Kielburger. “How I describe the event is an answer to a question: I’m only one person, what difference can I make? And when you step into a room with 20,000 other people who care about causes and volunteering, and who earned to be there, that’s empowering and that’s inspiring for kids.”
Other We Day Toronto presenters include: pop group the Jonas Brothers; Martin Luther King III (human-rights advocate and the eldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr); Darren Criss, cast member of the hit TV show Glee; Michael (Pinball) Clemons, CFL Hall of Famer and vice-chair of the Toronto Argonauts; Molly Burke, a visually impaired motivational speaker; and Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut and the first Canadian to walk in space.
We Day events are part of the year-long We Act program, an educational resource that guides students in activism, including providing them with suggestions on ways to get involved. Since 2007, youth involved in We Act have raised more than $37-million for around 1,000 local and global causes, and have logged 9.6 million volunteer hours.
“We wanted to do this to celebrate the best of inspiration for students. We have the Juno [Awards] for music, the Grey Cup for football … things that bring our country together iconically,” said Craig Kielburger. “But there was no event that brought us together around service and volunteerism, so we want to show that it’s cool and that kids can make a difference. And now, for a whole generation growing up, this is something on their calender they can look forward to.”