A group of 33 Yellowknife middle schoolers is heading to an Edmonton conference designed to help students start projects for social good.
Initially, 21 students from William McDonald Middle School were meant to go to We Day in Edmonton on October 22. Run by the international development charity We, the events feature speakers, performers, and young participants in an all-day conference focused on inspiring change.
With help from WestJet, the school can now send an extra dozen students as well as chaperones.
“You need to earn your tickets. So with your good actions, you earn your tickets,” social-emotional learning teacher Mélanie Parisella told students.
Emily Maclean, a Grade 8 student, said attending We Day last year had inspired her work to alleviate bullying at the school.
“I’ve been bullied myself, a couple of times. When I was in third grade to fifth grade I got teased and most likely talked about behind my back,” she said.
Over the past year, a school club based on the We charity’s work has organized an awareness initiative at the Legislative Assembly for anti-bullying initiative Pink Shirt Day. Maclean is now surveying students about their experiences of bullying and how safe they feel at school.
Emily Maclean said going to We Day inspired her anti-bullying project. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
“Last year, our class helped rebuild a school,” said student Tristalynn Moran-Thrasher. The Yellowknife school club raised money for a school building project in Ecuador and is now helping to fund a water well for the same school.
Moran-Thrasher said the club had helped her “come out of her shell” as she met students from other classes. She will now meet students from across Canada at We Day later this month.
“We get to have all these opportunities and experiences. We get to learn other people’s stories,” she said.
“We all have a passion or something that we hate and that often impacts your life,” said teacher Parisella, who described the way working in China as part of her studies had “changed her life.”
Teacher and club leader Mélanie Parisella announces an extra 12 students will be able to attend We Day. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
“I wanted to bring that to the kids,” she said.
Students at William McDonald will next be trick-or-treating for food donations in the lead-up to Halloween – an initiative they have entitled We Scare For Hunger. Donations will head into holiday hampers for those who need them.