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I was invited to witness an amazing event on May 3rd celebrating students and educators in Washington state…WE Day Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll kicked off the day and got the kids hyped and loud! He said, “Our adults need you, need your guidance.” The place erupted with cheers. I was amazed at how loud 16,000 students could be. Carroll, also the Co-Chair of WE Day Seattle, was just the start of the of celebrities and musicians that entertained and motivated the group over the next five plus hours.
Hosting the event throughout the day were Jack & Jack, singer-songwriter duo Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky; Olivia Holt, recording artist and actress; and Anthony Gonzalez, actor, singer and musician.
Hip-Hop Artist Sol played his hit Jump In and Noah Cyrus sang her hit song All Falls Down. Marlee Matlin spoke of following her dream of acting although born deaf. Paraplegic Spencer West talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro by using his arms only and his documentary Redefining Possible. Jacob Tremblay, star of Wonder, was joined onstage by spokesperson for Treacher Collins syndrome, Nathaniel Newman, to raise awareness about the genetic disorder. Motivational speaker and author Lizzie Valasquez brought the crowd to tears with her powerful words about bullying. Then Ann Curry, Rasheda Ali, and Diane Guerrero all shared moving stories with the young crowd that continued to cheer. As day wrapped up Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback, along with his fiancé Ciara, singer and songwriter, thanked the amazing group of students for their service to others. Lastly Rachel Platten ended the day by singing her hit Fight Song along with the entire arena.
The amazing thing is that students or their teachers can’t buy a ticket to attend WE Day. To be included, they must have participated in a local and global volunteer/give back activity in the past year. The great thing is there were so many students that fit the bill in Washington state as shown by this packed house. And, as I discovered, many educators in attendance were helping these students succeed by helping their classrooms discover ways to get involved using the WE Schools resources.
I met one student, Maya Prouty, a senior at the Attic Learning Center in Woodinville who was attending her fifth WE Day event.
I asked Maya how she became interested in giving back to her community (and ultimately receiving the golden WE Day ticket).
She said that she feels very strongly about the issues of homelessness and hunger in our community and wanted to find a way to help. So, for her local project, Maya along with some classmates, organize an annual food drive event. She picked October to do the event as she said, “The weather is getting cold and I knew it was a good time [to start collecting for the holidays].”
For her global project, she works with fellow students on a WE Are Rafikis fundraiser. The school orders handmade Rafiki bracelets made by women in Kenya to earn money to send their children to school.
She’s also worked with fellow students on WE Bake for Change and organized a bake sale at the school.
These WE options are some of many school fundraisers that are available with assistance through the WE organization.
Ultimately as Maya explained it all stems around the WE Villages principle and the five pillars that the charity is based on: Food, Health, Education, Water, and Opportunity. They are making change to create good she noted.
As we wrapped up Maya offered this advice to students wanting to get involved and make a difference. She said, “It’s important to know what your passion is.” She referenced that homelessness is something she is passionate about that is why she has gotten involved in the projects she has. Maya added, “Passion + Issue = Change.”
She said, “It is really important to know that small actions can make big impact.”
As a senior, Maya won’t be involved as a student in WE Day next year but is hopeful to stay involved on some level in the future. She’s planning to study engineering in college as she feels “it can be used to make a positive impact on a global and local scale.”
For more information, visit www.we.org.