BY: MADIE SCOTT
In what looked like a social advocacy protest, 700 students from 16 schools across Chicagoland gathered at the West Side Farragut Career Academy on Oct. 14, dancing and holding up handmade posters urging people to “be the change.”
The assembly officially announced the debut of a We Day event in Chicago on April 30, 2015. We Day unites over 200 thousand youth across 14 cities around the world for a concert- like show. Chicago will be the last stop of the season.
This initiative, described on We Day’s website as the “movement of our time, empowering a generation of young global citizens,” aims to be a saving grace for Chicago’s youth communities, that are ridden with careless violence.
Chicago students listened intently on Tuesday to inspiring speeches from We Day co-founder Craig Kielburger, Allstate CEO Tom Wilson, Chicago Bears offensive tackle Michael Ola and renowned speakers Martin Luther King III, Kweku Mandela and Spencer West.
No one can purchase tickets to We Day. Youth across Illinois must earn their ticket through We Day’s We Act program by committing to take action on one local and one global cause of their choice.
Students in the past have earned this ticket by raising money for cancer research, donating jeans to the homeless and fundraising to build a school in Kenya.
Next April, students who have earned their spot will hear Jennifer Hudson, Martin Luther King III, Shay Mitchell, Kweku Mandela and a player from the Chicago Bears speak. About 100 Illinois schools are already signed up for the program, even though the event was just officially announced on Tuesday.
Since 2007, the youth empowerment event has had impressive results, both immediate and lasting.About 98 percent of participating youth leave We Day events believing they can make a difference, and roughly 79 percent of voting-age We Day alumni report having voted in their national election, according to We Day.
We Day, the “blueprint for young people to take action as agents of social change,” as described on its website, could be building Chicago’s leaders of tomorrow.
“It just gives you hope. All the stuff we’re faced with, all the challenges we have. These kids are powerful; they’re passionate. They will make a difference. And it just makes you feel good about the world,” said Wilson.