Three lessons: WE Day through the lens of a student

The fifth annual WE Day Seattle event took place at Key Arena on Friday, April 21. This gathering was the chance for 16,000 local youth to come together and celebrate their impact on their local and global community. I attended with my Associated Student Body leadership team from Whitman Middle School in Seattle, after we completed a food drive to help benefit our local food bank and a penny drive in which we raised $1,300 to support the effort for clean water in Kenya. Completing these projects gave us the opportunity to attend WE Day.

Founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, the WE Movement is dedicated to bringing people together and allowing people to gain tools and knowledge to help them change the world. WE Day was a celebration for kids, like me, who had decided they wanted to make a difference and take action in their communities. My biggest takeaway from WE Day was how to take action. Many people think that our generation is not paying attention, that we are a screen-obsessed group of lazy kids. But WE Day was proof that that was not the case. We heard lots of dynamic speakers but I really felt that I took away three lessons.

Lesson one: WE are stronger when we come together.

One speaker, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said, “We had to sacrifice the ME for the WE,” likely alluding to the Seahawks’ decision to link arms during the national anthem last fall. Baldwin talked about the importance to come together and the need to make to sacrifices sometimes for little things in order to be ready to stand strong for larger things. WE Day founders (and brothers) Marc and Craig Kielburger told the crowd, “Different Schools, different faiths, different communities all together standing as one united in the belief that we can do anything when we come together.” This further reinforced the fact that to fight back against the injustices in our world only works if we can come together as one.

Lesson two: WE are capable of anything.

When talking about his dreams as a kid, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shared a mantra from his dad that he would always use to keep motivated, “Why not you?” A phrase so simple yet so important in anyone's life, in anyone's mind, in anyone's thoughts on achieving their dreams. Why not you? You have the power to achieve anything you put your mind to, all it takes is determination and a belief that it can be you. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin talked about the fact he always wanted to be a pioneer in his world. From the time he was a kid, Buzz had a dream, a dream he wouldn't ever forget, a dream to do what he loved. He was able to achieve that dream not just with support from his friends and family but with his own drive and perseverance to succeed. He explained to the audience that despite setbacks he was able to achieve his dreams and was the second person to ever set foot on the moon, second only to Neil Armstrong. Buzz was the one who kept his dream alive in the same way any of us have the power to keep our dreams alive and make them into a reality.

Lesson three: WE have the power to change our world.

“Remember that every impact counts, no matter how small it may seem,” said anti-bullying advocate Lily Collins. You don't know everyone's story or everyone's struggle so any little thing you do could make a difference in someone's life. Actress Yara Shahidi said, “Imagine what we could accomplish when we act as one in a million.” So eventually those small actions will add up like bricks in a building until we have together created something truly meaningful. Changing the world is a huge thing, but if we all break off a part of the responsibility it is something that can happen and that we can achieve.

They may say that my generation is narcissistic, ignorant, and apathetic but we are more than that. We are competent, compassionate young adults, committed to making a change for the better in our world. We are ready to come together to achieve our dreams and to create a world of unity and appreciation.

ANNABELLE FALCONER is an eighth grader at Whitman Middle School in Seattle.