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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Students, Dalai Lama gearing up for We Day

September 28, 2009

CTV.ca - Sep. 26 2009 2:18

Just weeks shy of her eighth birthday, Avery Johnson has spearheaded more
charitable initiatives than most adults do in a lifetime -- and that's why
she'll have one of the best seats in the house for Tuesday's We Day event in
Vancouver.

As a first grader she helped raise more than $1,000 for the construction of
water wells in Kenya, by bravely standing up in front of her entire school
and asking students to participate in her first-ever used book sale.

Since then, the vivacious youngster has held toy sales in support of Free
the Children's Brick by Brick campaign, an organization that builds schools
for students in Ecuador. And at her last birthday party, she asked friends
to make small donations to the charity in lieu of gifts.

"It feels good -- stopping sad stuff and making other people's lives
better," Johnson told CTV.ca in a telephone interview from Vancouver on
Thursday.

She'll be among many others who feel the same way at Free the Children's
upcoming We Day at General Motors Place in Vancouver, although she's too
young to volunteer at the event.

Toronto will have its own We Day on Oct. 5.

We Day is a jam-packed, inspirational event designed to launch students into
a year's worth of activism in their local communities.

Teachers and students are also encouraged to pledge their support for any
one of Free The Children's global programs aimed at providing kids in
impoverished countries with necessities such as clean water, shelter and
school supplies.

The Dalai Lama, pop sensation Jason Mraz, United Nations Messenger of Peace
and wildlife conservationist Jane Goodall, actress and activist Mia Farrow,
former child soldier Michael Chikwanine, motivational speaker Spencer West,
musician Louise Kent, the Canadian Tenors and W. Brett Wilson of Dragon's
Den will all take to the stage.

Even Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan has signed on to participate, as
Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger recently announced on his
Twitter page.

Free the Children is the world's largest network of children helping
children through education. Kielburger and his brother, Marc, organized the
first We Day (formerly Me to We Day) in 2007.

Since then, more than 15,000 students have rallied to the cause, helping to
build schools in the world's poorest regions.

"The first year we had this crazy dream and we were just like, 'You know
what? Let's try to make it work,' and somehow we did ... the next year was a
building year but this year is I think the tipping point year because we
went from 8,000 student leaders last year to 32,000 this year," Marc
Kielburger told CTV.ca earlier this month.

This year, one of the biggest draws to the event is the Dalai Lama.

A security expert recently told CTV B.C. there will be both uniformed and
undercover officers protecting the Dalai Lama at all times during his stay
on the West Coast.

His Holiness will appear onstage at We Day and at the Vancouver Peace Summit
from Sept. 27 -- 29, with six other Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

"The Dalai Lama was designated by the minister of public safety as a visitor
who requires protection," Sgt. Greg Cox, an RCMP spokesperson, recently told
CTV B.C.

In 2006, the Dalai Lama said his number one commitment was the promotion of
human rights and his number two commitment is religious harmony.

Live coverage online

CTV.ca is streaming both the Vancouver and Toronto We Day events at weday
dot ctv dot ca. A television special featuring highlights from both events
will air Saturday, Oct. 10 from 7-9 p.m. ET on CTV.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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