Recently, the world’s largest youth empowerment event of its kind, We Day, officially went international with its London, UK debut at Wembley Arena. World-renowned speakers, international activists and chart-topping musical sensations including Prince Harry, Malala Yousafzai, Al Gore, Craig and Marc Kielburger, Jennifer Hudson, Clive Owen, “Pretty Little Liars'” Shay Mitchell, Ellie Goulding, “Glee’s” Jacob Artist, Sir Richard Branson, Dizzee Rascal and We Day co-chairs Holly Branson and Lord Rumi Verjee amongst others, came together to educate, inspire and empower 12,000 student leaders to take action on local and global causes that are important to them. Today’s students will join the ‘WE’ movement of 2.3 million engaged, young global citizens from across North America and the UK who are committed to changing the world through social action.
An initiative of international charity and educational partner, Free The Children, We Day is taking the philanthropic world by storm with events in the US (next stops are Seattle March 21 and California March 26), Canada and the UK, and is one of the world’s largest registered charities on Facebook with 3.8 million followers. This year alone, more than 180,000 young people will come together in stadium gatherings to take part in this unprecedented educational initiative.
Greeted by a piercing drum beat of applause and cheers, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai spoke to the audience about the extreme struggles she once faced just to be able to go to school.
In her speech, Malala said: “Every day that I meet young people like you who are committed to changing the world – I am the one who is inspired.” A passionate advocate for girls’ rights to go to school, which she is taking action on through her foundation, the Malala Fund, she then went on and described how: “We are making tremendous gains, but we have much work yet to be done – and we need more help to accomplish our task. We need more friends, and we need more partners. That is the reason I am here today – to forge a partnership.” Inviting Free The Children’s co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger onstage, as well as the CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund, Shiza Shahid, the three parties announced a new joint partnership aimed to inspire young people throughout the UK and around the world to stand up for girls’ right to access education. The full details on the partnership announcement can be found here.
Hosted by MTV’s Laura Whitmore, Bluey Robinson and Lilah Parsons the day was full of powerful educational speeches, inspirational moments and show-stopping performances, which can be seen here. Some of these included:
Prince Harry praised the crowd of 12,000 for committing to a cause they cared about and said he hoped they would inspire and encourage their friends.
Recognized by the young audience as Harry Potter’s Luna Lovegood, actress Evanna Lynch shared her incredible and inspiring story of how she struggled with her own self-esteem issues. She moved the audience of 12,000 with her powerful words about how she found strength from J.K. Rowling’s stories – and Luna’s character especially. There was total silence as she said: “We’ve been told a million times that we need to love ourselves. I’m urging you all today to take that a step further, by not only accepting your differences and the things that make you odd, but to embrace and celebrate them, because it is that very essence that is the propulsive, electric energy that fuels your creativity and can be your single greatest tool in your mission for social change.”
Long-time Free The Children supporter, Jennifer Hudson, is no stranger to the We Day stage, performing at past We Day events in North America. As a strong advocate for children, she co-founded with her sister Julia, the Julian D. King Foundation, which was established to provide stability, support and positive experiences for children of all backgrounds to help enable them to grow to be productive, confident and happy adults. Today, she supports the 12,000 students in attendance and has them on their feet performing I Can’t Describe and Bleed for Love.
Brit award winning songstress, Ellie Goulding, closed the show with her hit single Anything Could Happen. The audience was ecstatic as Ellie was joined on stage for her first performance with the London Youth Choir, whose last gig included a performance on stage alongside The Rolling Stones in London.
The full lineup of acts who took the stage at We Day UK included Prince Harry, Malala Yousafzai, Jennifer Hudson, Ellie Goulding, Gary Neville, Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Birdy, Jacob Artist, Dizzee Rascal, Sam and the Womp, Clive Owen, Evanna Lynch, Shay Mitchell, Sir Richard Branson, Holly Branson, Sam Branson, Bluey Robinson, Lilah Parsons, Laura Whitmore, Jamal Edwards, The Tenors, Young Stitch, Martine Wright, Iiro Seppanen, Jeb Corliss, Lord Rumi Verjee, Craig and Marc Kielburger, Spencer West and Molly Burke.