Thousands of youth gather for global change at Free The Children's National Me to We Day

    Top social issues speakers and performers inspire youth at the largest
    one-day event of its kind

    TORONTO, Oct. 17 /CNW/ - 8,000 student leaders packed the Ricoh Coliseum
in Toronto today for Free The Children's second annual National Me to We Day.
Along with their unwavering energy and excitement, the audience brought
posters and signs, t-shirts and autograph books. You might have thought this
was a rock concert. In some respects it was.
    Presenters, including actress and activist, Mia Farrow; social advocate,
Justin Trudeau; the host of Oprah's Big Give, Nate Berkus and Free The
Children founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, spoke about social issues facing
the world and inspired the audience to get involved and take action. The
students were also moved by stories and experiences of fellow youth, including
former child soldier, Michel Chikwanine and cast members from Degrassi: The
Next Generation, who recently travelled to Ecuador and volunteered with
indigenous communities. The event was hosted by etalk's Ben Mulroney and 
Tanya Kim and included musical performances by Sarah McLachlan, 
Crash Parallel, Canadian Idol winner Theo Tams and Louise Kent, the first
artist signed to the new socially conscious music label Me to We Music. A
one-hour special with all the day's highlights will air on CTV, on 
October 25, 2008 at 7 p.m. EST.
    Thousands of students in schools from coast to coast including Halifax,
Montreal, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver, tuned into the event through live
webcast, making Me to We Day a national experience.

    More than just an event, Me to We is a movement.

    "Today is not just the date of an event; it's the start of a movement of
youth working together for change," said Craig Kielburger, founder of Free The
Children. "The impact of National Me to We Day reaches far and wide."
    The momentum of National Me to We Day continues as educators, families
and supporters from coast to coast begin their journey to make a difference
through the 100-School Challenge - a goal of building 100 schools so that more
youth in developing countries have an opportunity to receive an education and
break the cycle of poverty. Free The Children provides kits for educators,
families and offices with a combination of tangible activities, innovative
campaigns and daily actions to reach this goal and support international
development work.
    "It made me realize what we can do if we work together," said 
Marc Lombado, Sir Wilfrid Collegiate Institute. "All of us here are going to
take what we learned today and bring it back to our schools and get more of
our friends involved. Today was just the beginning."
    National Me to We Day is made possible at no cost to students and schools
through the sponsorship and support of numerous companies and organizations.
National Bank Financial Group is the title sponsor of the event.
    "National Bank Financial Group is proud to be the title sponsor of
National Me to We Day for a second year in a row," said Brian Davis, Executive
Vice-President, Corporate Development and Governance, National Bank Financial
Group. "Through a long-standing corporate partnership with Free The Children,
National Bank Financial Group has been able to engage employees, their
families and their communities in various programs that embody the Me to We
philosophy. Inspiring Canadian kids is an integral part of our corporate
social responsibility program and, together with Free The Children, we are
committed to helping thousands of kids make the first step towards changing
the world for the better."

    It begins with WE

    The name of the event, Me to We, represents a new way of thinking and
living. "It is a philosophy that focuses less on "me" and more on "we" - our
local and global community," said Marc Kielburger, chief executive director,
Free The Children. "It can be as simple as reading a book with a positive
message and making ethical purchases."
    Every youth and educator attending the event received an ethically
manufactured t-shirt created by Me to We: (Responsible Style) along with
information about Craig and Marc Kielburger's latest endeavour, Me to We - a
new kind of social enterprise for people who want to help change the world
with their daily choices. For more information, visit

    Me to We Day 2009: two events, two major Canadian Centres, one week that
    will change the world.

    The event concluded with an announcement that next year's Me to We Day
events will be held in Vancouver on September 28, 2009 at the GM Place and the
following week in Toronto on October 5, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre. The
Vancouver event will include a keynote speech from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
and is organized in cooperation with the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and
Education as a special youth component of a three-day Peace Summit which
brings together a gathering of Nobel Laureates and other luminaries on 
Sept. 27, 28 and 29, 2009.
    "We are so thrilled to work with the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and
share His Holiness's message with 14,000 student leaders in Vancouver," said
Marc Kielburger. "Together we hope to motivate youth to contribute to the
development of peace and to create positive social changes both at home and in
communities around the world."
    For more information about the event and for official photographs, visit

    About Free The Children
    Free The Children is the world's largest network of children helping
children through education, with more than one million youth involved in
innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995
by international child rights activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children has
a proven track record of success. Through the energy and passion of youth,
Free The Children has built more than 500 schools around the world and it
provides education for 50,000 children everyday. The organization has received
the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child (also known as the
Children's Nobel Prize), the Human Rights Award from the World Association of
Non-Governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnerships with
leading school boards and Oprah's Angel Network. For more information please

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Melissa Yaw, C: (416) 528-9134, T: (647)

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