We Create Change Tour | The Life of K: We Create Change Tour

Friday, May 2, 2014

We Create Change Tour

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Students of Hopewell Public School taking the spotlight on the We Create Change Tour.
I realize that not everyone has heard of Free The Children, so before I get to the We Create Change Tour event I attended, here's a bit of info. Free The Children is a charity empowering youth to make a difference in the world. From their website, they: enable and empower youth to be agents of change. They do work here in Canada and internationally and one of their campaigns is called We Create Change, where students collect pennies and other change to build schools, one brick at a time.

The We Create Change Tour is to celebrate and thank all the students across Canada who have participated so far. And the tour, I'm guessing, will spur on many more students to take up the cause. It's impossible to not be inspired when in the presence of the amazing speakers from the tour.

The lineup included Spencer West, Neverest, and Hannah Alper. Spencer West is just incredible. Born with a genetic condition that didn't allow the muscles in his legs to develop, he now lives without legs. But does that stop him? No way! This guy has climbed mountains (literally, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro), walked hundreds of kilometers (Edmonton to Calgary, Alberta), and is now touring the country, driving in a Ford vehicle designed to be driven using only hands. Cool eh?

His story spoke to everyone in the packed gym: just a boy looking to fit in, bullied for being different, not wanting to go to school. The point that hit home was that he didn't WANT to go to school, but so many kids in the world CAN'T go to school. There are many reasons - not having a physical school to go to, having to help the family or work to support the family, being sick because of a lack of food or healthcare - and Spencer and Free The Children are helping. This year they are focusing on education and funds raised by the We Create Change campaign are buying bricks and building schools overseas.

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The captivating Spencer West.
The students were amazed hearing Hannah Alper speak. This little 11-year old firecracker has done so much and tells the kids they too can make a difference. She urges them all to become change makers and promises that they inspire her to do more. She spoke so well and if she was nervous at all it didn't show. It's really powerful having a youth speak to other youth. They're going to listen to her words and really hear them because of her age. She is just like them.

At two points during the show we were treated to live performances by Neverest, a Canadian pop band that had the kids up and dancing. They did some speaking as well and were inspiring too. You can tell they have a great relationship with Spencer, joking and teasing, but also really respect him.

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Neverest performing Immortalized.
After the event, as the students left the gym, I gathered my things, and along with some other "media" people, I was able to chat with Spencer, Hannah, and Neverest. I wasn't expecting this level of intimacy but had fun listening to some of the reporters' questions and asking some of my own. The guys from Neverest were candid about the differences between a regular tour and this one (think a band touring and playing shows at night versus speaking and performing at schools to students in the mornings and afternoons). Hannah talked about some of the challenges of being on the road and the "hecticness" of it all. Spencer talked about being so inspired by the people around him day after day and by all the people they've met on the road. These are real people doing extraordinary things.

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Spencer West, Hannah Alper and Neverest.
I also got the opportunity to chat briefly with Hannah's mom who is also part of the tour. You can tell she's proud of her daughter but gave Hannah all the credit, saying her and her partner offer their support and encouragement, but follow Hannah's lead. I can only hope my kids are even a bit as mature and well-spoken and aware as Hannah is. Wow. You can read more from Hannah on her blog, Call Me Hannah.

I left the event inspired to do, to make a difference, to help my kids make a difference. This campaign is really geared toward youth but there are things that I can do, that we can all do. Something I did immediately was purchase a Rafiki bracelet. Each chain is made by a woman overseas and the money will support her in someway (different colours support different things like income, food, health, water and education). There are other ways you can donate (all on the Free The Children website) and giving a gift of a donation in someone's name is a great present idea for someone who has everything!

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My new Rafiki bracelet.
For now, I'm going to proudly wear my bracelet knowing I made a tiny difference in someone's life and I'm going to speak with my kids about what they can do now - saving their change - and encourage them to do more when they get a bit older and maybe even start a We Create Change campaign at their school. And like Hannah's mom, I will do my best to support and encourage them in whatever they decide to do.

If you want to know more about the We Create Change Tour or Free The Children visit their websites or follow along on Twitter using #changetour. I am so thankful I was able to spend a morning being inspired and meeting some incredible people.

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