Earth Hour is set for tonight!

Earth Hour is set for tonight!

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On Saturday, 28 March 8:30 p.m. local time, individuals, businesses and cities around the world will switch off their lights for one hour to focus attention on climate change. As the lights go out, Earth Hour supporters will also be contributing real climate solutions to combat the globe’s biggest environmental challenge. This is a cause I truly believe in.

This year, Earth Hour is set to be a record-breaking celebration of our planet in 172 countries and territories having confirmed their participation, including the Philippines, Maldives and Madagascar along with Brazil, the United States, Canada and China.

Since its origin as a symbolic lights off event in Sydney in 2007, WWF’s Earth Hour has grown into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment with huge public awareness and action on climate in more than 7,000 cities across the world.

Everyone’s talking climate change. Use hashtag #YourPower and take climate action now!

Join My Project Empowerment Campaign

Join My Project Empowerment Campaign

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I’m so excited to share that I have just launched a Change Heroes campaign called Project Empowerment and I’m so happy to see the change that my team is going to make. I’ve learned a thing or two about creating change in the past few years – I traveled across this beautiful country with We Day the We Create Change Tour. When I look back on what we did, why we did it and who we did it for, what it all comes down to is EMPOWERMENT.

I am writing this today because I have been empowered – my journey as a changemaker is fueled by it.

I am empowered by support from my parents and teachers.

I am empowered by my role models and mentors.

I am empowered by my community – that community that includes you – the community that we call WE.

I am empowered because I have found my voice both through my blog and through speaking.

I am empowered by the many organizations like Free The Children, Change Heroes and RBC Insurance and the tools and resources that they provide to me.

I am empowered because I know that the all of the things that we do add up to make a big difference.

Here’s the biggest thing that I have learned about empowerment – when you have it – you need to do 2 things with it.

1. Use it.

2. Share it. Give it away. Pass it on.

This is really important and has both local and global meaning this year.

Locally, empower your friends, family and community to find their spark and take action. Believe in and support someone the way that others have done for you. That is how you empower somebody.

Globally, with initiatives like Project Empowerment, we turn our focus beyond our circle to include people that we don’t know, but we can give them empowerment that will make a big difference in their lives and the lives of their families and communites. Empowerment is all about providing opportunity for people to create their own change.

This is why I’ve launched my Project Empowerment Campaign with Change Heroes. It’s really easy – and so much fun – to get involved!

I’m asking for you to give $1 a day for 3 months – that’s less than a chocolate bar or a bag of chips. I’ve made the first donation to get it started.

The funds I’ve committed to raising will make a long-lasting impact on villages in Ecuador through various programs, including:

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SCHOOL PROGRAMS
3-year programs with girls in primary and secondary school to develop public speaking skills, leadership training, group working skills and developing confidence and pride.

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INCOME PROGRAMS
Training and skill development to empower women to engage in entrepreneurship opportunities to support the livelihood of their families.

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SKILLS TRAINING
Weaving, animal husbandry, as well as financial and empowerment training to develop small businesses.

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WOMEN’S GROUPS
Free The Children encourages formations of women’s and girls’ groups to strengthen family income, increase self-esteem of young women and develop strong female leaders.

All 4 actions enables a community of women to support their families through small business, and send their children to school. instead of work. This kind of support helps break the cycle of poverty, and we know what happens when kids go to school. That’s right….Change.

Change Heroes is an awesome way to create change and get your friends and family involved with you. It is really proof that all the little things (even $1 a day) adds up to make a big difference. Project Empowerment is a campaign that is running for a limited time – you have to launch by the end of March.

Oh, there’s one more thing to tell you – RBC Insurance is giving away a Me to We trip for 4 to Ecuador and if your #ProjectEmpowerment campaign raises $3000 or more, you are entered into a draw to win a trip to see the change that you are creating first hand!

 

Montreal – Get Ready For We Day This Week!

Montreal – Get Ready For We Day This Week!

Montreal, are you ready for world-changers & positive-thinkers to invade your city?! Your favourite youth empowerment event – We Day – is coming to you March 24 at the Théâtre St-Denis.

Get pumped. This is your We Day Montreal lineup!

  • Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire – Retired lieutenant-general, Senator, and celebrated humanitarian
  • Alexandre Despatie – Two-time Canadian Olympic diver and Host of BT Montreal
  • Kardinal Offishall – Award-winning rap artist, music producer and Free The Children ambassador
  • JRDN – Juno Award-winning artist and Free The Children ambassador
  • Jonas & The Massive Attraction – JUNO-nominated chart-topping rock band
  • Andee – Canadian recording artist
  • Karl Wolf – International recording artist, MTV Europe Music Award-winner and Free The Children ambassador
  • Neverest – Chart-topping MMVA-nominated Canadian pop-rock band
  • Sarah Fisher and Jessica Tyler – Cast members from the Emmy-nominated TV series DEGRASSI
  • Jimmy Baptiste – Artist, graphic designer, curator and youth educator 
  • Liz Trinnear – VJ, host of the MUCH COUNTDOWN, and co-host of We Day Montreal
  • Tyrone Edwards – Host of E! and co-host of We Day Montreal
  • Mustafa the Poet – 18-year-old poet, writer, actor and emcee
  • Craig Kielburger – International activist and co-founder of We Day
  • Spencer West – Me to We motivational speaker, Free The Children ambassador and author
  • Salima Visram – Founder of The Soular Backpack
  • Jonathan Emile – Grammy®-nominated singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and cancer survivor
  • Mountagha Sow – President, Montreal Youth Council
  • Anya Pogharian – 17-year-old inventor of a home dialysis machine
  • David Hodges – Hip-hop producer and music educator
  • Fabrice Vil – Co-founder, CEO, Pour 3 Points
  • Sarah Steben Dancers – Montreal dance team
  • Hannah Alper – 12-year-old Me to We inspirational speaker, Free The Children ambassador, blogger and youth activist
  • Ashley Rose Murphy – Motivational youth speaker

One person I can’t wait to meet is Salima Visram, creator of The Soular Backpack. Over the past year, she designed and put together her invention, which would allow kids in rural areas to leverage the power of the sun on their long walks to and from school every day. The backpack would have a solar panel on it, whose storage battery would later connect to an LED lamp, hence allowing children in rural areas, who have no access to electricity or who use kerosene, to study through the night. 3-4 hours in the sun would result in 7-8 hours of light.

The Soular Backpack is something that I truly believe can impact the lives and futures of millions of children, not only in Kenya but in Africa. Way to go, Salima!

This is going to be one INSPIRING day. I can’t wait to celebrate all the local and global positive change YOU have been making. See you there!

 

The Collective Project shows how students are changing the world

The Collective Project shows how students are changing the world

From the age of 9, the #CollectiveProject‘s Neha Gupta wanted to change the world. After starting Empower Orphans with a garage sale, she expanded her organization, creating change and becoming a voice for children everywhere.

Introducing the #CollectiveProject. See how students like Neha Gupta are changing the world.

National We Day 2015 Here We Come!

National We Day 2015 Here We Come!

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Here we go to Ottawa! Today, We Day and National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS announce the star-studded lineup of speakers and performers for National We Day taking place on April 1, 2015 at the Canadian Tire Centre. National We Day will bring together 16,000 students and teachers in an inspirational setting celebrating the commitment they have made to take action locally and globally.

I’m thrilled and honoured to be speaking again in the nation’s capital, and I can’t wait to see you there! if you’re going, leave me a comment and let me know!

Taking to the stage this year is a cast of returning favourites and new faces, including Ambassador Heyman, Kardinal Offishall, Marlee Matlin, Scott Helman, Kweku Mandela and Amanda Lindhout. Also announced today are National We Day co-hosts, VJ and host of the MUCH COUNTDOWN Liz Trinnear, and E! host Tyrone Edwards. Along with others, this all-star lineup will join international activists and We Day co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, to share their passion for change, international experiences, and energize the crowd with unforgettable performances and motivational speeches.

We Day is the movement of our time – a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day celebrates and inspires this generation’s shift from me to we – towards acting with intention, leading with compassion, and a belief in the power of community. We Day is one of the world’s largest registered charities on social media, with more than five million followers. This year alone hundreds of thousands of young people will come together in stadium-sized events in 14 cities to take part in this unprecedented educational initiative.

You can’t buy a ticket to We Day. Young people earn them by committing to take action on local and global causes of their choice. We Day provides a platform for youth to learn about some of today’s pressing social issues, helping to inspire them to become leaders and global citizens and to take action on the issues most important to them. We Day is free of charge to the thousands of students and educators in attendance, thanks to the generous support of National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS.

More than a one-day event, We Day is connected to the year-long We Act program, which provides educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action.

The full list of speakers, performers and presenters announced to date include:
Ambassador Bruce Heyman and Mrs. Heyman (@BruceAHeyman) (@vshey) (@usembassyottawa) – United States Ambassador to Canada
Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) – Academy Award-winning actress and devoted social activist
Kardinal Offishall (@KardinalO) – Award-winning rap artist, music producer and Free The Children ambassador
Scott Helman (@ScottHelman) – Canadian singer and songwriter
Shawn Desman (@DaRealSD) – Platinum-selling and Juno Award-winning recording artist
Amanda Lindhout (@AmandaLindhout) – Canadian author, humanitarian, speaker and activist
JRDN (@JRDNmusic) – Juno Award-winning artist and Free The Children ambassador
Kweku Mandela (@kwekumandela) – Social advocate, filmmaker, and grandson of President Nelson Mandela
Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) – Award-winning actress and activist
Andee (@andeeofficial) – Canadian recording artist
Jessica Tyler and Ricardo Hoyos (@Degrassi) – Cast members from the Emmy-nominated TV series DEGRASSI
Neverest (@neverestmusic) – Chart-topping MMVA-nominated Canadian pop-rock band
Liz Trinnear (@liztrinnear) – VJ, host of the MUCH COUNTDOWN, and co-host of National We Day
Tyrone Edwards (@mr1LOVETO) – Host of E! and co-host of National We Day
Mustafa the Poet (@MustafaThePoet) – 18-year-old poet, writer, actor and emcee
Craig and Marc Kielburger (@craigkielburger) – International activists and co-founders of We Day
Spencer West (@spencer2thewest) – Me to We motivational speaker, Free The Children ambassador and author
Hannah Alper (@ThatHannahAlper) – 12-year-old Me to We inspirational speaker, Free The Children ambassador, blogger and youth activist. That’s me!
Start Up (@startupdance) – Local dance group  Taylor Conroy (@destroynormal) – Founder and CEO – Change Heroes
Ashley Rose Murphy (@AshleyRose_FTC) – Motivational youth speaker

Your Dead Laptop Battery Has A Life Elsewhere

Your Dead Laptop Battery Has A Life Elsewhere
A street vendor in India uses a light powered by refurbished battery cells.

A street vendor in India uses a light powered by refurbished battery cells.

If you think your laptop battery needs to be thrown away after it dies, think again.

IBM Research India in Bangalore are working on a great idea with your batteries being a year’s worth of treasure for a house in the developing world.

According to David Talbot at Technology Review:

The IBM group, working with a hardware R&D firm called RadioStudio, tore open discarded laptop battery packaging and extracted individual storage units called cells, tested those individually to pick out the good ones, and recombined them to form refurbished battery packs. Then, after adding charging dongles as well as circuitry to prevent overheating, they gave them to five users in Bangalore who lived in slums or operated sidewalk carts.

Three months later, the users said the battery packs had worked well; the main request was for rat-resistant wires and brighter bulbs, says Mohit Jain, a research engineer with the group. A revised setup is now being tested.

Imagine if this were to be turned into a business – not only would people be working for a good cause, but the battery would be providing four hours of light a day for an entire year.

Sometimes just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean it can’t. Think big!

Change can start with one shirt and one person…

Change can start with one shirt and one person…

Today I spoke at an event in my hometown and shared a story and a message that I am really passionate about. I wanted to share it here with you and ask that you join us on Wednesday, February 25th to create change with your shirt.

Before you read on, I want you to know something:

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Once upon a time (2007) in a land not so far away (Nova Scotia), a boy showed up for his first day of Grade 9. It’s kind of a big deal, that first day, Grade 9 in a new school with so many new people. You want to make a good first impression. You want to be cool. You want to look good. His first day didn’t go as planned. He found himself to be the target of a group of boys who called him names and threatened to beat him up. Why? They didn’t like his pink shirt. The bullies followed him around, tormenting him, all day. It sucked.

It didn’t go unnoticed. Two students decided to do something about it. Travis and DJ were In Grade 12 and had seen things like this going on in their school for years. Enough is enough.

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They went to the store and bought 50 pink shirts. They went home and emailed everyone they knew and asked them to email everyone that they knew. They said that “tomorrow we are creating A Sea of Pink. Wear pink to stand with this boy. Wear pink to stand up to the boys who bullied him. When we stand together wearing pink the bullies will be forced to step down.”

Travis and DJ showed up the next day and saw that their message was heard. Hundreds of students showed up wearing pink.

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That grade 9 student walked in and saw everyone in pink and he smiled and he sighed and he knew it was going to be ok. He was not alone.

Today, the pink shirt has become a symbol against bullying all over the world. Pink Shirt Day is on February 25th and it is a day that we come together, creating a sea of pink.

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For those of you who are empowered and ready to make a difference but don’t know where to begin – wear a pink shirt this Wednesday and let people know why you are wearing it. Pink Shirt Day empowers us to stand up against bullying because we do it together. It reminds us to be better people and create better, safer and more inclusive communities.

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Change starts one shirt, one person, one school, one community at a time.

To learn more about Pink Shirt Day, visit http://pinkshirtday.ca/

Follow on @PinkShirtDay on Twitter. You can also follow my friend and founder of Pink Shirt Day, Travis Price, on Twitter @ThePinkDeal.

Find and Like Pink Shirt Day on Facebook too!

 

 

There is so much more to this story than a really cute penguin wearing a red sweater.

There is so much more to this story than a really cute penguin wearing a red sweater.

 

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This story has been making the rounds online today and I couldn’t resist sharing it here. On my blog, I talk a lot about finding your passion and using what you are good at to take action and make a diffeence. The oldest man in Australia, Afred Date, who is turning 109 years old this year, is using his gift of knitting to make sweaters. These aren’t just any sweaters for anybody – they are for Little Penguins (a species of a Penguin) in Phillip Island that had been affected by an oil spill in 2012.

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I wanted to dig deeper and find out more about the issue of oil spills, how the wildlife is affected and more about this project. I was surprised to learn that a dime-sized drop of oil on a Little Penguin could kill them. The  oil separates and mats their feathers allowing water to get in and this makes them very cold, and less able to move around well and get food?

Here is a video of a Little Penguin rescue showing the dangers of oil spills:

 

The campaign, Knits For Nature was created by the Penguins Foundation. The foundation has a Wildlife Clinic in Phillip Island, where 438 Penguins came to the center for urgent care because after an oil spill in the waters where they live. The Penguins Foundation asked for experienced knitters to knit Penguin Jumpers (which is what they call sweaters) for the Penguins. The sweaters prevents the Penguins from swallowing the toxic oil when trying to clean themselves. Ingesting the oil can kill them. The wool keeps the Little Penguins warm and it also absorbs lots of the oil from their skin and feathers.

So, back to the request for knitters for these sweaters – that is where Alfred Date, the man from Australia comes in. His retirement home wanted to take part in this issue and they asked Alfred to help make the sweaters. Alfred has been knitting as a hobby for 80 years and is using something he loves to create change. Alfred is yet another example of you are never too young – OR TOO OLD –  to make a difference.

Here is another video by the WWF releasing Little Penguins back into the ocean after they have been cleaned and healthy enough to return:

As a result of this program and the amazing and caring people who care for the penguins, 96% of the Little Penguins were saved and are now fully healthy! Lots of knitters made the sweaters and helped so many penguins. This is also a great example of little things adding up to make a big difference. Something as small as knitting a sweater can save a life. That is definitely inspirational.

Want to learn more about the Penguins Foundation, Knits For Nature and how you can take action and help these awesome Little Penguins? Go to PenguinFoundation.org.au for more information!

We Day California Is Announced – And I’ll Be There!

We Day California Is Announced – And I’ll Be There!

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Today, We Day announce the star-studded lineup of speakers and performers for We Day California taking place on February 25, 2015 at the SAP Center….and I’ll be there! We Day California will bring together 16,000 students and teachers in an inspirational setting celebrating the commitment they have made to take action locally and globally.

Taking to the stage this year is a cast of returning favorites and new faces, including Cody Simpson, Colbie Caillat, J.R. Martinez, Cher Lloyd, Kid President, Lt. Colonel Eileen Collins and Marlee Matlin.

Along with others, this all-star lineup will join international activists and We Day co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger, to share their passion for change, international experiences, and energize the crowd with unforgettable performances and motivational speeches.

“Performing at We Day this past fall was such a fantastic experience, I’m so happy to be back and part of this inspiring event in California,” said Grammy® Award-winning pop singer and songwriter, Colbie Caillat. “The strong commitment and level of involvement from these students is incredibly inspirational. I’m grateful to be part of this celebration, honoring the hard work and actions they have taken.”

“Today’s generation of young people – the Me to We generation – have the power to create and lead real systemic change through We Day, North America’s celebration of service,” said We Day co-founder Craig Kielburger. “Over 200,000 students, coast to coast from 5,000 schools, earn their tickets to We Day by committing to take action on local and global causes they care about. They are truly moving the needle on some of today’s most important issues.”

We Day is the movement of our time – a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day celebrates and inspires this generation’s shift from me to we – towards acting with intention, leading with compassion, and a belief in the power of community. We Day is one of the world’s largest registered charities on social media, with more than five million followers. This year alone hundreds of thousands of young people will come together in stadium-sized events in 14 cities to take part in this unprecedented educational initiative.

You can’t buy a ticket to We Day. Young people earn them by committing to take action on local and global causes of their choice. We Day provides a platform for youth to learn about some of today’s pressing social issues, helping to inspire them to become leaders and global citizens and to take action on the issues most important to them. We Day is free of charge to the thousands of students and educators in attendance, thanks to the generous support of National Co-Title Sponsors Microsoft, Allstate and Unilever Project Sunlight.

More than a one-day event, We Day is connected to the year-long We Act program, which provides educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action.

We Day and We Act are cause inclusive, empowering young people to find their passion and create the change they want to see. Together, We Day and We Act are a blueprint for building the next generation of global citizens.

Here’s the whole list of speakers and performers who will be joining us at We Day California:

  • Cody Simpson – Award-winning Australian singer/songwriter and worldwide music sensation
  • Lt. Colonel Eileen Collins – First female space shuttle commander and United States Air Force colonel
  • Marlee Matlin – Academy® Award-winning actress and devoted social activist
  • J.R. Martinez – Actor, motivational speaker, bestselling author and former U.S. Army soldier and winner of Dancing With The Stars
  • Mia Farrow – Award-winning actress and activist
  • G.R.L. – Platinum-selling international girl group
  • Luke Bilyk – Actor from the Emmy-nominated TV series DEGRASSI (@Degrassi)
  • Dana Michelle Cook and Sarah Moshman – Filmmakers and creators of “The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things”
  • Public Figures – A dance team collective of five dance groups from the San Jose/Bay area
  • Spencer West – Me to We motivational speaker, Free The Children ambassador and author
  • Ezra Frech – 9-year-old athlete and motivational speaker
  • Zuriel Oduwole – 12-year-old film maker, presidential interviewer & Girl Child Education advocate
  • Hannah Alper – 12-year-old Me to We inspirational speaker, Free The Children ambassador, blogger and youth activist

I can’t wait to see you there!