Spirit of Mandela Enables Canadian Students to Become Global Citizens for a Week

    Inspired by honourary Canadian citizen Nelson Mandela, schools across
    Canada mark Mandela's 90th birthday and raise money and awareness for
    South Africa's youth

    TORONTO, April 21 /CNW/ - Canadian students will once again become global
citizens this week by raising funds for disadvantaged children and youth in
South Africa during the 2008 Spirit of Mandela event - the only event of its
kind in the world. In the process, they will learn about Nelson Mandela's
struggle to end apartheid in South Africa and his ongoing efforts towards
greater social justice in South Africa and around the world.
    Held from April 21-25, 2008 and organized by the Nelson Mandela
Children's Fund (Canada) NMCF (Canada), Spirit of Mandela Week's activities
begin today. The official launch of this event will take place at Elder's
Mills Public School in Woodbridge, Ontario on April 22, 2008. South Africa
will continue to draw the spotlight over the weekend as the week will
culminate with a Freedom Day Gala and Awards Ceremony - organized by the South
African Consulate General and the Canadian Council of South Africans - in
Toronto on Sunday April 27th. This date holds great significance to South
Africans, marking the anniversary of the first free democratic elections, in
    "Spirit of Mandela Week represents an outstanding opportunity for
Canadian schools to celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela, one of the
great world leaders of our time," said Mark Beckles, President and CEO of the
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada). "Through studying Mandela, students
will become aware of the profound social issues faced by young South Africans
and through this, understand the importance of volunteering in their community
while simultaneously becoming better global citizens and better global
    Spirit of Mandela Week activities are designed to serve as a starting
point for discussion of these important issues. With materials provided by the
NMCF (Canada), educators across Canada will lead students in discussions about
Mandela and his work, conduct assemblies, hold poster or essay contests,
screen videos, sell Spirit of Mandela Week merchandise, and participate in
walkathons. The week's primary fund-raising event is the Toonie Drive, held as
close to April 27th as possible.
    With the endorsement of governments, school boards and teacher's
associations across Canada, the event has grown significantly over the years
and is now the cornerstone event of the NMCF (Canada).
    "In 2001, Mr. Mandela came to Toronto to mark the re-naming of a school
in his honour, Nelson Mandela Park School. During that visit he spoke to the
students about the importance of education, and stated that their success need
not be predicated on race or status," explained the Honourable Kathleen Wynne,
Minister of Education, Government of Ontario. "We, in the education system in
Ontario, have a great responsibility to live up to the spirit of Mr. Mandela.
We have in our hands the future of not just our city, not just our country,
but of this planet. And it is our job to provide the opportunity for our
children to embrace their potential, seize opportunities and become citizens
of this global village. And that is why our government is reforming and
rebuilding education in Ontario - so that we can reach every student. They are
our future. Nelson Mandela once said "Education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world." It is that sentiment we are
celebrating during "Spirit of Mandela Week."
    Nelson Mandela, who turns 90 this year, holds honorary degrees from over
50 international universities, including Ryerson University in Toronto.
Further, on Monday, November 19, 2001, Mr. Mandela became the second person
ever to receive Honorary Canadian Citizenship status.

    About Spirit of Mandela Week

    Since 2003, Spirit of Mandela Week has been helping Canadian students
support their fellow children and youth in South Africa. Through educational
and community-oriented activities, students learn about the challenges facing
children and youth in South Africa and also help raise funds for programs
supported by the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. They also learn about the
life of Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela, his long struggle against apartheid and
the development of an inclusive and democratic South African society. Schools
across Canada are invited to participate. For more information on Spirit of
Mandela Week, visit www.spiritofmandela.ca or call 1-866-763-1453. For further
information on the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada), visit

    About the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada)

    Founded following Nelson Mandela's historic visit to Canada in 1998, The
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada) exists to support the programs and
activities of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund in South Africa. In Canada,
the NMCF organizes and administers various programs and events designed to
help raise funds and heighten awareness of the challenges facing young people
and children in today's South Africa. In South Africa, NMCF helps to develop
skills and leadership abilities of children and youth and also runs programs
for those affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information, please contact the NMCF
(Canada) by visiting www.mandela-children.ca or by calling 1-866-763-1453.

For further information:

For further information: Andrea Lekushoff, Principal, ALC
Communications, (416) 435-2569, Andrea_lekushoff@sympatico.ca

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