When KSS Grade 12 student Jenaya Copithorne travelled to the annual We Day celebrations in Vancouver the past two years, it opened her eyes to the potential that young people have to make social change.
We Day has become a motivational day for students across the world and Copithorne wanted to take the philosophy behind We Day—founded by child advocate Craig Kielburger in 2007 as a way to empower youth—and bring it back to the Central Okanagan.
So Copithorne pitched the idea to her fellow students in the KSS Global Awareness Club and when the club got on board, the planning began.
The KSS Global Awareness Club will host a Mini We Day in Kelowna on May 17, when they will welcome up to 500 Grade 6 students from schools across the Okanagan for a one-day event, encouraging them to become socially active as they enter middle school.
“I went to We Day in Grade 10 and 11 and I was really inspired by the event,” said Copithorne this week, in an interview with the Kelowna Capital News. “I wanted to bring that to more students who didn’t have the opportunity to go. It was just a really incredible atmosphere and it made a huge impact on me. It showed me there are a lot of students out there who are interested in changing the world. Students do have this amazing ability to change things. We have a voice in the community and having that power is really important.”
Students from the Central Okanagan School District have regularly attended We Day events over the past several years but Copithorne says the message is so important that more kids in the area need to hear it.
She began her efforts by attracting sponsors for the event in order to pay a series of speakers who will attend.
While We Day is usually focussed on students in senior high schools, Copithorne says she wanted to host the KSS Mini We Day for kids in Grade 6 to have a bigger impact.
“I thought Grade 6 would be a good age,” said Copithorne. “They are entering a very vulnerable age so they have to really think about what choices they make and what they are getting involved with and I think community service is a really good choice for them.”
The Mini We Day event might be the biggest single event the Global Awareness Club has tackled. Earlier this year it hosted a coffeehouse event and this week also put on its annual drive-thru breakfast.
But trying to bring in hundreds of Grade 6 students in one place for the event is no small task.
“We know this is a huge event but I think there is great value in the younger kids seeing the older students running it,” said KSS teacher Jillian Kirk, one of two teacher sponsors for the club. “We need to get kids excited (about social movements) at a younger age so when they get to high school they are hooked.”
For Copithorne, she is excited that her idea is moving forward and wants to give young students the chance to learn about social change.
“We’ve got a lot of diverse speakers coming who have different messages,” she said. “I’m hoping it will inspire students to get involved with the community and become positive role models.”
The KSS Global Awareness Club is seeking community sponsors for the event. If you can help e-mail Jenaya at firstname.lastname@example.org.