We Act and We Day: Empowering Youth to End Poverty

“Youth is wasted on the young.” Time and again, young people are told that they are not utilizing their energy for good. But that saying does not hold true for those behind the We Day event, We Act initiative and the Free the Children organization.

We Day is an event for youth with some of the biggest names in pop culture — including Malala Yousafzai, Magic Johnson, the Jonas brothers, Selena Gomez and many more — in attendance, but tickets are not available for purchase. To be able to attend one of these inspirational, youth-centered events, one must become a part of a yearlong We Act initiative, driven by the organization Free the Children. This empowers youth to end poverty by enacting social change locally and globally.

The bigger picture of the event is driven by Free the Children. It is an international charity that works by partnering UK, US and Canadian schools and other groups to create events that will impact other children on a global level, namely in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The charity’s model is based on the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Children raise money through various fundraising events, money that is then used to develop whole poverty-stricken communities abroad. The organization believes that by focusing on a holistic approach village by village, there is a greater chance of bringing that community out of poverty. When working in a village, the organization works at all levels: it focuses on education, clean water and sanitation, health, economy and food production. One specific project being worked on is the giving of goats to families and villages and finding sponsors for the animals; the gift helps to increase a community’s food security and economy.

With this global model in mind, Free the Children has the We Act offshoot directly aimed at motivating children in the UK, US and Canada into action. Specifically, the organization strives to take the mindset of “me” and turn it into “we.” Schools and other domestic organizations can become involved in a yearlong We Act initiative. Individual groups pledge to have one domestic and one international goal to work towards. The youth are given weekly updates about global injustices, information about domestic issues and ideas on how to fundraise in dynamic ways to achieve the goals.

Part of the awareness revolves around children in impoverished parts of the world that might be displaced through wars or political unrest. The organization shows youths involved in the movement, who are blessed to live in a stabilized country, how their counterparts overseas are in refugee camps, forced into child labor and/or food insecure. Better work can be done when the eyes of youth in industrialized nations are opened to the horrors facing other children around the world.

The culmination of We Act is We Day. Throughout the entire process, youth are given the charge to be social agents. The organization strongly believes that “we are the first generation that can truly end the worst forms of poverty, embrace we thinking and we acting and remove the barriers to youth being agents of social change.”

We Day allows groups to network with other empowered youths and keep kids energized to continue in the fight against poverty and social injustice throughout the world. If this coming generation can remember that living “locally active, globally aware” has truly helped others, then no longer will the older generation lament that youth is wasted: The young are now creators of global change themselves.

Megan Ivy

Sources: Free the Children, We Day
Photo: We Day