We Day is an annual celebration to motivate students and promote youth empowerment for changing the world. A selected few students at Riverside go to the event every year after being recognized for their efforts to make a change in their community or globally.

This year’s event was very inspiring and motivated students to take the initiative to make a change locally and globallyIMG_1893. “They chose people who had inspirational stories or their own to get students thinking, ‘Oh maybe I can make a difference too.’ It really went from the ‘Me’ to ‘We,” said grade 9 student, Giovana Costa. One of the speakers this year was Spencer West, a motivational speaker who shared his story about losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five. He inspires and motivates students when sharing his story of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro using his hands and wheelchair to raise money to provide clean water to communities in Kenya. All the speakers help to make the event a platform for students to connect while learning to understand world issues and how to help. “The most important thing is it’s great to see youth making a difference, working for a change and caring about others rather than just themselves,” said Rapid Change leader, Ms. Joni Blaxland.

This year’s We Day included performances from artists sucIMG_1865h as Cobie Caillat, Hedley, and world-class speakers, including Astronaut, Chris Hadfield and Academy Award-winning actress, Marlee Matlin. There were more speakers this year who shared their stories, rather than a focus on entertainment as in past years. “It wasn’t as much a glamorous event this year. It was more talking about making a difference and giving students a local and global initiative to follow through after We Day,” said Blaxland. The artists and speakers at We Day encourage the students and talk about how just one person can help change the world.

Blaxland even took the stage that day alongside Tyrone Edwards, T.V. host on E! News and Much Music, to be recognized for her involvement in Rapid Change and the Free the Children organization. Riverside has raised enough money to build schools and wells for countries in need every year for the past eight years. “I thought I would be nervous, but being recognized really inspired me to get up on stage and it was quite an honor, it rejuvenated my interest for Free the Children even more,” said Blaxland.