Lower Mainland students volunteered one million hours of community service last year – a number so big it’s hard to fathom, said Craig Kielburger, co-founder of We Day, which will be at Rogers Centre on Friday.
The event, which features high profile speakers like Al Gore and Rev. Jesse Jackson, is free for local students, but in exchange their schools must promise to become involved in social issues.
“Adults have a mistaken view of young people being apathetic,” Kielburger said. “What youth in B.C have done is remarkable, and it’s just starting.”
Templeton Secondary, for example, has raised money to build a school in Sierra Leone.
Kielburger said a lot of youth want to get involved in social issues but find it overwhelming – and We Day gives them the tools to get involved.
“You fill a stadium with 10,000 young people, suddenly that doubt disappears,” he said.
“You’ve got this incredible spectrum of social and world leaders who are coming to connect with youth. It creates an amazing shift.
“After you hear Jesse Jackson talking about marching with Dr. King and being arrested for trying to go into a library, to standing beside President (Barack) Obama during his inauguration, you realize change is possible in a lifetime.”
He said his hope is that youth at We Day events – which are also held in Toronto and Montreal – will take this passion into adulthood.
“I hope this legacy of philanthropy will continue in the type of careers they pick, in how they shop as an ethical consumer, how they raise their children, how they spend their free time.”
“It’s all a ripple effect. The mission is to raise a generation of … young people who care about their community and their world. We had the honour to host the Dalai Lama and he said the greatest challenge in this world is we’re raising a generation of passive bystanders.”