Whistler Secondary School’s leadership class was inspired by WE Day at Rogers Arena on Oct. 18, 2012.
The students who attended were profoundly affected by the motivational speeches, stories, videos, music and suggested projects created by the Free the Children organization. Empowered, they left Rogers Arena with a multitude of ideas on how to make a positive local and global impact. Since October, the leadership class has participated in a number of projects including: a clean water initiative, a Christmas hamper, a coat drive, donations to the local food bank and demonstrations of school spirit with a pep rally and fun theme days.
Within a week after WE Day, posters were plastered all over the school to raise awareness of these initiatives and to demonstrate how every student could help out with each cause.
“Projects like the pep rally and penny drive really show that they have heart and want to make a difference,” said vice principal and leadership teacher Stuart Bent, who has been thrilled by the leadership class’s progress this year. “There have been a lot of activities … the kids have successfully picked up the challenge of supporting projects globally and locally.”
The leadership class exceeded their goal when it came to the We Create Change campaign. Inspired by their new knowledge that 80 per cent of illnesses in developing countries are linked to poor water and sanitation, their mission was to fill a five-gallon water jug with pennies. These pennies would then be sent to Free the Children to help provide clean water to countries in need. However, thanks to Earls Whistler and the penny collections brought in by staff, parents and students, the donations reached a total of 80,000 pennies and the water jug overflowed.
This contribution to the We Create Change campaign means that 32 people in developing nations will now have clean water for life.
The penny drive was not the only project that showed initiative. This past Halloween, students participated in another Free the Children campaign called We Scare Hunger. Leadership student Jacs Mckinnon-Brickell explained that on Oct. 31, she and her friends “went around [her] neighbourhood and collected non-perishable goods, instead of candy.” These goods were then delivered to the local food bank together with other boxes of non-perishable food from WSS.
Another project that leadership student Savanah Pantages took on was to donate coats to the local community in need.
The project “went way better than expected,” said Pantages. “We were anxious that nobody was going to donate any coats, but then we ended up with 18 garbage bags full of coats.”
These donated coats were then distributed from Mount Currie to 100-Mile House.
With the help of the leadership class, WSS demonstrated its holiday spirit with the gift of giving. Over $300 was raised to support a family that could not afford Christmas gifts. Leadership student Sarah Lawson bought the family’s Christmas wish list with the money raised and the excess money went to Whistler Community Services Society for future Christmas hampers.
“Christmas is a special time of year for a lot of people, especially children, so making even one family’s Christmas that much better by raising a few hundred dollars feels wonderful,” Lawson said.
Mckinnon-Brickell, Pantages and Lawson are only a few of many leadership students that have volunteered their time to making a difference so far this school year. There are many more exciting projects and activities on the way.
Vice principal Bent said he is “expecting a massive Mini WE Day, Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying project, another pep rally, and a Valentine’s Day event.”
While not all the projects undertaken by the class related directly to Free the Children, the work of Canadians Craig and Mark Kielburger of heightening awareness and raising money to fight child slavery since 1996 has inspired these Whistler students to realize how privileged they are and that with a few small projects they too can improve the world.