It is officially 2015! Happy (belated) New Year! 2014 was an amazing year filled with exciting moments! Here are my top 5 moments that made 2014 so special! By the way, I have been quite busy lately with school and stuff so that is why this post is so late. But I will be getting back to more frequent posts now ;).
1. We Day!
This October I had the opportunity to attend We Day which is an inspirational concert/pep-rally to commend youth for their charitable efforts and to inspire them to make an even bigger difference.The whole day was just really amazing and it really motivated me to leave a bigger impact on our world.
The excitement started off with a pre-reception dinner the night before We Day that my family and I got invited to. There I met a few speakers and performers, and what was really special for me was that I got to meet my hero Spencer West. If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that Spencer is a guy who had a genetic disease, and had to have his legs amputated at the age of 5. Despite having no legs, Spencer managed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro! It was so cool for me to talk to him for a few minutes, and get his autograph.
After, I also met some inspiring youth including Hannah Alper, Vishal Vijay, and Sydney Brouillard-Coyle.
The next morning, after getting up really early at 5:30 we went down to the ACC to go to the FanZone where Etalk was interviewing some of the speakers and performers. Spencer West, Craig and Marc, R5, and Shawn Desman were just a few of the people who were interviewed.
Then we went into the ACC and we were brought to our seats in the third row! Having seats really close to the stage made the experience even better because we could see everything that was happening on stage.
All the speakers and performers were amazing and made me, and everyone else in the audience want to make a positive impact in our world.
Some of the performers included Hedley, Kardinal Offishal, Kendrick Lamar, Neverest, and Lights. Some of the speakers included Natalie Panek, Chris Hadfield, Ashley Murphy, and Katie Couric. Almost all of the speakers spoke about empowerment because that is what this year’s theme is. They spoke about economic, social, technological, and educational empowerment.
One of my favourite moments was when Craig and Marc Kielburger spoke. They spoke so amazingly because they got everyone excited about taking action. The passion that they spoke with was unbelievable to hear. They spoke about empowerment, taking action, We 365, and much more.
But the best part of We Day was just feeling the energy of 20,000 youth all passionate about changing the world! Not everyone always understands my passion, so it was pretty cool to be in a room where everyone believed in the same things I do.
The cool thing for me was that Liz Trinnear and Ed Robertson gave me a shout out during We Day! I got to stand up in front of 20, 000 people and I was on the jumbotron screen in the ACC! Here is the video of me getting a shout out:
I really had such an amazing experience at We Day and I feel so empowered to make a difference in our world!
2. Celebrating Student Success!
This year in May, I received the “Celebrating Student Success” award for students in York Region. According to the York Region website, the award highlights 24 exemplary students in York Region. You can win the award by displaying good character, leadership, academic achievement and service to the school and/or community.
Then, in March there was the annual banquet where each student got to bring their parents, their nominator, and their principal. The dinner was really good and I got to meet many students who are like-minded. We took some pictures and we also watched the video that profiled each of the students.
All of the other students there had really inspirational stories. For example, the girl sitting on my right named Emma had started her own non-profit business. Since a young age, she had been donating the proceeds from her business called “Emmas Lemons” where she would make and sell lemonade. Also, the boy on my left named Tai was the Provincial Ambassador for Easter Seals and he advocates for children with disabilities by speaking at events.
Below there is the video called “Celebrating Student Success 2014” (they show me talking at around 10:30.)
I am very honoured to have recieved this award and I want to thank my school for nominating me.
3. Travelling to India!
This past March, my family and I travelled to India. The whole trip was such an amazing, amazing experience filled with memories that will last me a lifetime. I had never actually been to a developing country to see what it was really like. I had only made donations to charities but I had never actually seen where the money was going to with my own eyes. So that is why this trip meant so much to me.
Over the course of two and a half weeks my family went to 5 cities in India-Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Goa, and Mumbia. Even though it was super fun to see beautiful places like the Taj Mahal and stay in nice hotels, I have to say my favourite part of the whole trip was our visit to an underprivileged school in Delhi. Before I went to India, I decided that I wanted to take action and raise money for a school in India. My grandfather (who went on the trip with us) got in touch with a friend of his and together they set up a time for me to visit a school while we were in India. In my class at school, with the help of my friends and the support of my teacher we raised about $400 to give to the school.
Then, while were in Delhi we visited the school. It was definitely very different from my school here in Canada-some of the classes were even outside! We were given a tour of the whole school by the principal. First, we went into a grade 9 classroom where I gave a very small speech, where I said the first sentence in Hindi. Here is what I said:
“Hello, my name is Diviya. I am from Toronto, Canada and I am in grade 7. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to visit India because my grandma and grandpa are from here. This is my very first visit, and I am sure I will come back soon. Education is very important to me, so I was curious to visit a school in India. My friends and I decided that that we were going to give you all a little gift from Canada. I am really glad that I got this opportunity to visit your school.”
After I gave my speech, one of the students came up to the front of the class and personally thanked me for helping out his school. That was really special to me because I could tell he and all of his classmates really appreciated it. Also, all of the kids really took their education seriously and they worked really hard.
At the end of our visit, I gave the cheque to the principal and I could tell she really appreciated it.
4. My Online Fundraiser!
This past summer, I did an online fundraiser for Free The Children, which is a charity that empowers youth in the developed world and gives aid and support to children and families in the developing world.
Because of my passion for girls’ rights I decided that I was going to send the money from my fundraiser to the Kisaruni All Girls School that Free The Children built and supports. I believe that every child deserves an education, so that is why I want to support this school that is giving girls in Kenya a chance to make a better life for themselves and communities. The donations supported things like library books, text books and school supplies, art and sports supplies, health and environmental clubs, and school expansion (including new classrooms and dorm space.)
For each person that donated they would be sent a unique, handmade card and for any donations $50 or more they would be sent an empowering necklace made by me.
My original goal was to raise $1500 but I ended up surpassing that goal by over $1000! I raised $2390! I was so happy with the results of my fundraiser and I want to say thank you to everyone who donated.
5. Involving My School!
This year and the end of last year, I really got my school involved with Free The Children and we participated in many campaigns-some of them were for Free The Children and some were are own endeavours. Our school originally had a “Culture of Compassion” club but with the support of my teachers I helped change it into a We Act group. A We Act group is basically just a club that organizes campaigns and projects for Free The Children and carries them out in their school.
Miraculous Milkbags: The first campaign that my school did was the “Miraculous Milkbags” project. You’re probably wondering how using milkbags could possibly be used in a campaign, but actually these milkbags helped many less-fortunate people. What we did was we asked students to bring in milkbags to school and then the students in the “We Act” club weaved the milkbags into beds for the homeless. This campaign helped people that are less-fortunate, and it also helped the environment by reusing materials.
Fellowship for the Philippines: After the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, our school decided that we needed to do something. So we got together and decided that we were going to do a Toy Drive! Students brought in their new or gently used toys and then we sold them to the students in our school. By the end of the fundraiser we had raised $1300!
We Scare Hunger: This Halloween we participated in the Free The Children “We Scare Hunger” campaign. At school, we made announcements and posters asking students to bring in their non-perishable food items so that we could give it to our local food bank. My friends and I also collected food on the actual Halloween night going around to each house asking for canned food instead of candy.
We Create Change: After Alex Dyment from Free The Children came to our school to talk about how we can get involved with the charity, we were inspired to participate in the “We Create Change” campaign. The campaign is about creating change-literally. By collecting coins and bills, we raised money for sustainable projects in the developing world. Each $50 provides enough money for one goat which empowers women and men in the developing world giving them nutritional milk and a means to make money for their family. Together, we bought 55 goats which was almost $3000 which in turn help families send 55 children to school! That is almost two full classrooms!
Overall, 2014 was an amazing year filled with amazing memories that will surely last a lifetime. Thank you all such much for your support.
Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!