Free The Children & We Day: A High-Scale Achievement


I was invited last week by a dear friend to join Craig and Marc Kielburger and share the wonderful experience of participating in the preview of Free The Children’s upcoming California “We Day.”

Free The Children was started 19 years ago by a 12 year old boy who couldn’t just accept what he’d just read in a newspaper: the story of another 12 year old boy, born in South Asia, who was sold into slavery at the age of four, spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom, and became anti-child-labor activist, only to be murdered upon his return home from a visit to the United States.

Craig Kielburger was so shocked by the other boy’s story that he decided he could make a difference. Determined to help create a better future for children around the world, Craig enlisted eleven of his classmates, and together they started a movement called 12 12 Year Old Boys, changing it to Free The Children a few of months later, when they turned 13. (Typical of boys to build grand dreams for the future, but not think of the next few months!) …

Craig embodies of one of my favorite quotes by Lili Tomlin: “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.”

Yes, he did something. He made it happen. Really Happen.

Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, involving more than 2.3 million young people, and active in more than 45 countries.

Their core concept: Children helping children

The enormity of this achievement is that it works on both sides. Children across the globe are helped, and the children who are involved in helping them are empowered. They see they have the power to make a difference and impact the future.

The preview of We Day I attended took place at Burton High School in San Francisco. There were probably around 500 kids in the school’s auditorium, but the energy they produced was equal to ten times their number. I can’t wait to go to We Day where there will be 16,000 of them. I am considering bringing earplugs…

I am grateful to Craig and Marc Kielburger and their team for giving so much joy and hope to the younger generation! I have enormous admiration for how they are helping them help others, and thereby making a better world. That is a high-scale achievement.

I also learned about Eva Haller, Chairman of the Board of Free The Children. She has supported this initiative from the beginning. Eva has dedicated her life to philanthropic causes. She is one of those incredible human beings whose goal and focus in life is in making the world a better place to live. (I don’t know if it is a coincidence, but she was just 12 years old in 1942 when she joined her older brother in the underground Hungarian resistance.)

Leaving the auditorium I felt energized and empowered.

You can be certain that I will write a follow-up blog post after the We Day which is happening in Oakland on March 26, 2014.

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