Thursday, March 27, 2014

LASD Participates in the First California “We Day” - A Celebration of Service Learning

Yesterday, over 150 LASD student leaders attended We Day at Oakland’s Oracle Arena joining 16,000 bay area students to celebrate their accomplishments in service learning.  We Day is unlike most student events.  You can’t buy tickets to We Day, students have to earn their way in by completing a minimum of two service learning projects, one local and one global.  We Day is just a small component of Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner, working internationally to empower and enable youth to be agents of change.

We Day is a full day event designed to empower and inspire young people to take action and affect change. Attendees were treated to performances and speakers by several well known celebrities including Magic Johnson, Martin Sheen, Martin Luther King III, Orlando Bloom, Selena Gomez and Seth Rogen.  All had powerful messages to help encourage this generation to take charge and make positive changes in the world.  Gomez spoke about the pressures young people face today while Rogen encouraged the young attendees to focus on their individual passions and talents. Other motivational speakers included Spencer West and Clemantine Wamariya, both of whom shared stories of incredible challenges they have overcome.  Spencer, a man without legs who summited Mount Kilimanjarow, encouraged students to remove “can’t” and “won’t” from their vocabulary, focusing instead on how.  Clemantine, a survivor of genocide, reminded students of their power and ability to raise other’s spirits, especially those in need.  Everyone wants to be seen and heard. The day truly inspired and touched all who were involved!

Not only are we proud to have had LASD student leaders involved in this event, we are more excited about the ways in which our students are getting involved to make a difference in the world.  Here are a few examples of ways LASD students have gotten involved -
  • participated in the "We Scare Hunger" campaign at Halloween donating food to local food bank
  • collected & donated new PJ's and Toys to the Community Service Center
  • created a coin drive for Typhoon Haiyan relief, raising over $3,000.
  • participated in the "We Are Love" campaign to raise money for a village in India
  • raised money to enlarge and rehabilitate two buildings into Birthing Centers in Nepal
  • participating in the Water Project and helping to build one well by raising one thousand dollars or more.

What is really exciting about LASD involvement in these projects is the passion and dedication demonstrated by our students.  Most, if not all of these projects were selected and championed by our students.  Our commitment to service learning as a district led us to becoming an Educational Partner with Free the Children.  LASD pride was felt by all students, teachers and parents in attendance at We Day when our district logo was displayed on the arena’s large screen highlighting this partnership.   We look forward to expanding service learning opportunities for students with Free the Children, and are excited to engage in the new campaigns for the Year of Education.  I truly believe our children are ready to change the world, and it is our job to support them in these endeavors.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done!” - Nelson Mandela

Contributed by Alyssa Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Partnerships
Photos by Erika Benadom, Principal of Almond School

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