WE Day brings young people together to celebrate the actions that they are taking in their local and global communities and to inspire another year of change by sharing the passion of world leaders and entertainers. WE Day is tied to the year-long WE Act programme, which offers educational resources, campaigns and support materials to help turn the event’s inspiration into sustained action. Through WE Act, students commit to taking one local and one global action to better the world, earning their way to WE Day. This March, Wembley Arena in London was filled with 12,000 educators and youth for WE Day UK.
From ME to WE
Written by Debanshu Sapathy (aged 12) and Joe Lea (aged 13).
5:30am I was waiting at the school gate to be picked up.
I was surprised when I saw Tamara (7C student reporter) in Mrs Nguyen’s car. She actually gave three of us a lift from home to the train station
15:36am We were on our way to the Coventry train station. You could see the excitement in all of us – 10 student reporters!
When we reached the main Coventry train station, we met up with the ten students from our school Student Council.
Inside the reception area there were lots of students from other schools who were wearing the same red WE DAY / Virgin Train lanyards. That was the reason why we recognised them. They must have done something good to the communities around them in order to earn these WE DAY tickets.
The train was 8 minutes late. It did not matter to us, as we were chatting about the trip!
I had to say it was freezing cold though.
6:15 am The train left Coventry. Outside the sun tried to rise from the dark purple, brown shallow sky….
We were given a separate coach – coach A for all 20 students from Whitley Academy! We got this special treatment thanks to the great work from the Student Council. The Student Council has been doing a lot of activities to raise fund to build a school in Africa. Martyna Adams (year 11 student) has been the lead in these projects. We could not thank Martyna enough for her effort in juggling lessons, mock GCSE exams and the fund raising projects. How amazing!
7:59am The train arrived outside Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena.
We walked from the Wembley Tube station to the SSE Arena (a.k.a Wembley Arena). There were hundreds and hundreds of young people like us leaving the Train B for the SSE Arena.
As we reached the Arena, we were confused as we did not know which door to line up. Luckily there was a very nice Virgin Train staff member who took us around asking for the entrance for our VIP tickets.
9:45am We finally got our seats right at the front of the stage; as a result, the speaker systems were a bit too loud for us.
The programme started at 10am.
There were a lot of inspirational speakers including Sir Richard Branson, the award-winning actor Martin Sheen and Shawn Mendes – the singer and songwriter who taught us how to sing the chorus of the song ‘Never Be Alone’. The audience responded so nicely and loud! Wow! I reckoned many of us would try to have a go singing this song later on.
Another speaker - Andy Barrow – the wheelchair rugby player shared with us how he tried to change his life after the accident that he was only awaken when the ambulance arrived. He used to be a rugby player before the accident.
Martin Sheen is the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor and told us: “You will find something in the world worth fighting for”.
Bluey Robinson – the co-host of the event told us his personal story when he grew up in a community where people did not know much about the Caribbean culture. He was picked on at school. It was quite sad to hear his story.
Oli and Sam (year 8 and 9 students from Surrey and Berkshire) raised funds for Oscar’s school (in Africa) by cycling to Nairobi. They did 130 miles in 4 days! Each day they cycled 20 miles. They said they were very nervous before the start of the challenge. They were not professional cyclists. The experience made them feel physically and emotionally exhausted, but inspired. They were inspired by their Dads and their friends. They told us: “You are stronger than you think you are”. How true!
We left for Coventry at 5:30 and arrived home at 7:20. It was an amazing day that will stay in our minds for years to come.
These are some of our reflections....
Khalid (7B student reporter) extremely enjoyed the rapping duo Bars and Melody. Before their performance we learnt that Bars often wrote songs from personal experience including being bullied in school. The lyrics of their song was very powerful …’Music let it take you away…That’s OK just because who you are’.
The event ended at 3pm. We were invited to another building to meet Spencer West. He told us how he got on in his life after the two legs were amputated. We were all silent to know he lost both legs when he was just five years old. In 2012 he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro by using his hands only.... This journey lasted for 7 days!!! Wow! He managed to raise more than £300 K from this challenge for the charity Free the Children.
Courtney (Year 7) also mentioned that Spencer West inspired her greatly because he talked about his life and how he had tried to live without legs. He said if he could live without legs and if he could do it, other people could too.
James (Year 9) said he enjoyed the speech from Professor Muhammad Yunus– Nobel Peace Laureate. James remembered Professor ‘s words: ‘No matter what size, gender, race or religion you can do amazing things’ . He also mentioned that great things started off small and they get bigger.
Jamila (Year 7) liked the performance of Karl Lokko. He talked about how he grew up in London getting involved in a gang and how he left behind his troublesome past and became a poet. Then he recited his own poem "The Eyes on a Butterfly's Wings". He used the metaphor of caterpillars, cocoon and butterflies to talk about his past. Not long ago he got stuck in gangs and went on doing seriously wrong things….until one day he changed. He recited: “ Change is real. Change will come”. …just like the caterpillars that have got out of the cocoon to become the real butterflies.
We all have learnt a great deal from the day. We can not wait for the WE DAY 2016!