On 5 March 2015, 12,000 young people filled The SSE Arena, Wembley, for the biggest youth empowerment event in the UK: We Day. Students gathered at the arena to celebrate the power that young people have to make a positive change in their local and global communities. On stage, inspirational speakers and performers such as Kweku Mandela, Sir Richard Branson and Bars & Melody highlighted an incredible year of social action and kick-started a whole new year of active citizenship.
And how do students buy their tickets for We Day? They can’t. They earn their tickets by participating in We Act, a year-long active citizenship programme, and committing to one local and one global action. Through We Act, students can take action in a variety of ways, from fundraising to build schools overseas to picking up litter and raising awareness for issues they feel passionate about.
Caroline Saunders is a teacher at The Regis School in Bognor Regis, one of the 2,000 schools Free The Children work with in the UK. She was attracted to the programme as she wanted to show students that they can play an active role in their community. We Act empowers students and shows them that they can make lasting positive change in the world. Caroline used the free resources and lesson plans to explore current global and local issues and motivate students to take a lead in planning their own social action campaign.
Their first action was to hold a We Scare Hunger food collection for a local foodbank. Students contacted nearby primary schools and encouraged them to join their efforts to address the issue of local hunger. On the day of the collection, the young volunteers worked together to form a human chain to carry the items into the foodbank.
"The beauty of We Scare Hunger is that people can take part no matter what their income is. It’s so inclusive,” says Caroline.
After the items had been collected and weighed, The Regis School and their community had gathered 2,876kg of food, a Free The Children record in the UK!
For their global action, students joined three other schools for a We Are Silent march across Tower Bridge in London. With decorated placards, banners and T-shirts, students raised awareness for a variety of causes that they felt passionate about, such as racism and gender equality. Fascinated crowds gathered around the students and witnessed the impact of their silence as they marched.
After completing their year of global and local actions, students at The Regis School were excited to join 12,000 young people at We Day to celebrate their year of social action.
"It’s developed a culture in the school and students are already talking about next year!”