Feature Story                                                                                                               Friday, June 13, 2014


A World of Change

Tour stops in Chilliwack to thank local students for fundraising efforts

Staff/Voice photos


Members of Neverest pose for a selfie with students at Mt. Slesse Middle School on Monday. Below, Spencer West speaks to students.


he We Create Change Tour bus rolled up to Mt. Slesse Middle School Monday at one of about 90 stops on a 10-week cross-Canada tour to thank students for raising money for Free the Children Foundation who help build schools in Africa.


On-board is popular Canadian rock band Neverest. Also on the Tour is Me to We motivational speaker, author and Free The Children Ambassador, Spencer West, who was making the trip across the country behind the wheel of a custom-built 2014 Ford Escape.


West lost his legs when he was five-years-old due to a genetic disorder called "sacral agenesis".


But that hasn't stopped him from accomplishing some amazing feats through his personal fundraising efforts for Free the Children, such as; muscling his way to the summit of Mt Kilamanjaro, and doing a grueling 300 km trek on his hands from Calgary to Edmonton.


A total of thirteen local schools worked collaboratively to attain a goal of $10,000 — the amount needed to construct a small school in Kenya.


Tour coordinator Andrea Guernsey told the Voice at the school that in order to take part in "We Day", schools and students have to do one global action throughout the year, and all the kids in the gym have been involved with Free the Children.


"They can do whatever "action" they want, it doesn't have to be through us. It can be anything they're passionate about. We just want them to take action in their own lives. They're so inspired, they've been working so hard to raise money," she said.




A few hundred students piled into the school gymnasium for the hour-long interactive educational show and sang along with Neverest on some of their more popular songs like "Everything". They even heard a brand new one called "Starlight". Later, the kids got in line to meet band members and pose for selfies with them.


When West spoke to the audience, he said some days he didn't really want to go to school.


"There were times that I dreaded going to school because I was terrible at math, and I'd been bullied. It made me think that I couldn't add value to the community, or more specifically, in high school."

He said that in order to do good academically, you had to be a good athlete. But that's able-bodied people.


"If I couldn't be on the court then I would do the next best thing and so I became a cheerleader," he explained. "But not only was a good at it, not only did I enjoy it, because I was known as the state champion."


West spoke about the state of education in Kenya, and the hurdles kids face in getting to go to school and gave jarring statistics regarding the millions of people in Africa who go without ever being able to learning to read or write.


"There's so many kids around the world who want an opportunity to go to school to learn how to read and write, but they face so many barriers to keep them from going to school. There are 57 million kids who are denied access to education every day," he said.


"Thank you for the incredible work that you've done. It hasn't gone unnoticed. I wanted to highlight a few schools to give you an idea of what's been happening here.


West thanked Chilliwack Central Elementary Community School, who he said did the "We Scare Hunger" campaign and collected over 800 items for the Chilliwack Salvation Army Food Bank. He also had high praise for Sardis Secondary who participated in donut sales for disaster-relief in the Philippines.


"Thank you for helping build global community because as John Wilkins once said, "A community that excludes even one of its members, is no community at all."


See more photos below.


The Free the Children Tour concludes with a massive celebration featuring the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Kardinal Offishall, Neverest, Spencer
West, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Jennifer Botterill and SURPRISE
GRAMMY® Award-winner on Tuesday, June 17 at 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. ET and
we want Chilliwack to be a part of this amazing celebration.


From coast-to-coast students will be tuning in to the live webcast at to
celebrate and reflect on their amazing efforts in raising funds to build
schools and school rooms through Free The Children’s Year of Education
. Earlier this year students made a commitment to build 200 schools and school rooms through Free The Children’s Year of Education initiative. Craig and Marc
Kielburger will be part of the celebration announcing the number of schools/school rooms that will be built from their collective fundraising efforts!


About Free the Children

Free The Children’s Year of Education is a year-long initiative and fundraising commitment to build 200 new schools in developing communities around the world. Ford and Royal bank of Canada are the Tour's major sponsors.


Currently, a trip to Nicaragua is being arranged for 2015 and those interested are encouraged to apply for a coveted spot.


Students, school and individual Canadians can contribute to the We Create Change Tour by visiting www.freethechildren.com/wecreatechangetour



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