Day 157: The we generation

Students flashing the "W" at National Me to We Day 2008.

Students flashing the "W" at National Me to We Day 2008.

When I was 12, my top priority at this time of year was counting down the days till Christmas holidays. Not so for the three girls I met today after church.

They were standing behind a table piled high with candles that they’d carefully wrapped in purple tissue paper and pink yarn.

Each package contained four Advent candles — three purple and one pink — to be lit over the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The girls had handmade a sign that hung from their folding table that said: “Me to We project to help build a school in Africa.”

When I bought the Advent candles from them, I asked what the Me to We project was about. They explained that their school, St. Gabriel’s, was raising funds toward building a school in Kenya.

I looked up the project when I got home and found out that it’s part of Free the Children’s efforts to inspire young people to change the world for the better.

Founder Craig Kielburger should know. When he was 12, Craig, along with some friends from school, founded Free the Children, an organization devoted to fighting child slave labour, and encouraging children to speak up about injustice. From his home in Thornhill, Ontario, Kielburger and his friends planned juice sales, garage sales, and coin drives to raise money and awareness about child labour.

According to their website, Free The Children has now changed the lives of more than one million young people around the world. The organization has built more than 450 primary schools, providing daily education to more than 40,000 children. Not bad for a 12-year-old from Thornhill.

It was heartwarming to see the three girls enthusiastically flogging their candles for such a good cause and believing they could make a positive difference in the world — and best of all, they are….

P.S. Here’s a video from another young person who made me smile today. Enjoy!

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