Skip to main content

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children, Me to We and We Day. Find out more at Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

Feb. 29 is an extra square on the calendar that comes only once every four years. We'll all likely dismiss the upcoming Leap Day as another ordinary Monday. But what if we used it to do something extraordinary?

Imagine if each and every Canadian took a well-earned break from our frenetic lives, and dedicated Feb. 29 to giving back; doing some good in our backyards, and the world.

Legions of volunteers could stock food banks and help revitalize public parks. We could build new playgrounds in schoolyards, host block parties for newcomers to the neighbourhood, and use part of the day to broaden our children's appreciation of our country's treasured diversity.

Canada does celebrate National Volunteer Week in mid-April, and our WE Schools program encourages Canadian teens to volunteer throughout the year. But for adults and young kids, there isn't a specific day in the calendar dedicated to doing social good.

In 2011, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared Sept. 11 a National Day of Service to celebrate everyday community heroes in honour of 9/11. But we still have to punch in at work.

Do we need a national holiday, like Martin Luther King Day in the U.S.? It's seen by many Americans as an opportunity to serve others, with the motto, "Make it a day on, not a day off."

As a starter, we could use the upcoming Leap Day to give all Canadians the chance to experience that "helper's high" that comes with 24 hours of altruism.

This week's question: What would you do with a day to make the world a better place?


Rick Hansen, Canada's "Man in Motion" and champion for people with disabilities

"I would ask Canadians to identify accessibility barriers in their communities and develop plans to eliminate these barriers – then measure the effect of these changes every Leap Day. When we work together to break down barriers, we liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities and create a fully inclusive society."

Cory Nicotine, founder of youth organization Knowledge is Pow Wow, Edmonton

"Throw a big multicultural BBQ where everyone will be welcomed and create a conversation on culture and beliefs so we can learn about each other."

Paige Farah, executive director, Communities in Progress Association, Halifax

"Stage a community-wide item swap in public places to encourage sharing, recycling and reducing consumerism. Donate remaining items to local charities, shelters, and refugees."

Have your say in the comment section.