Jun 18, 2009


Because I really believe in what this man had to say....

What does 12 + 26 + 3,200 + 12,000,000 equal?

The answer — one.

OK, that’s not a real math question.

But, at 12 years of age, a now 26-year-old man started a movement that has helped children in 3,200 villages across the globe and has a following of more than 12 million students worldwide.

One man — Craig Kielburger.

The international child-rights activist, three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author and co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We was in Kamloops last week with his conviction that one person has the power to revolutionize the world in which they live.

And Kielburger’s enthusiasm and passion for this belief was evident when he spoke to the near-full house at the Sagebrush Theatre: “Imagine the power if everybody stood up for what they believe in? It is possible.

“This is how change happens — through just one act of kindness.

“This is how movements are born.”

It was amazing to watch the dynamic philanthropist evoke gasps of outrage and tears of sadness from the audience during his presentation, which included video, photo slideshows, music and fascinating information.

Did you know $11 billion was spent on ice cream just in Europe last year?

Or that North Americans spent $18 billion on make-up and cosmetics and $400 billion on cigarettes? Or that $1 trillion was spent on armaments and munitions?

I certainly didn’t.

Those figures are staggering.

Kielburger’s entire presentation was powerful.

It was inspiring, a call to action.

Free The Children was founded in 1995 by Kielburger and is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education and development programs in 45 countries.

Me to We is a new social enterprise for people who want to change the world through daily choices, be it the clothes they wear, the books they read or how they spend time travelling.

It supports the Free the Children’s work with youth, creating global change by building schools, creating alternative incomes, initiating health-care systems, finding clean-water sources, education about sanitation and peace building.

It’s bricks, books and beyond.

But, it’s a daunting, almost pie-in-the-sky idea that one can make a difference.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in daily life — work, school, family, bills — but, as Kielburger said: “We’re so lucky. So just take minute to sit there, recognize it and be thankful for all that we have. We have a lot to give — we have a lot to share.”

But how can I help?

How much can I afford?

How and where do I start?

Kielburger’s suggestion — find your passion and start small.

Here are some of his propositions:

For students:

  • Participate in We Day, an annual celebration of the power of young people to kick off youth-led world-changing actions.
  • Volunteer.
  • Adopt a village or sister community with your school or group of friends.
  • Wear a bracelet for a cause in which you are interested.
  • Take a stand every day by choosing recycled materials, wearing eco-friendly clothing or using refillable water bottles.

At the workplace:

  • Team building with a purpose, such as choosing one day when the whole office does some sort of service in the community.
  • Company matching donations.
  • Support local groups and clubs.

For parents:

  • Use the newspaper as a menu and look for things you want to see changed.
  • Change or start new family traditions to involve community service.
  • Issue plus gift. Choose one area you’re interested in and decide on a gift to help, whether it be giving to a local charity or spending a day volunteering at a community organization.

“Something happens when you step outside of yourself — it changes your perspective,” Kielburger said.

So, what step will we all take?

Let’s start with one.

Copyright Kamloops This Week 2009


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