Malea Schapp (left) and Grace Farquharson were two of the students selected from Belmont Elementary to attend We Day in Vancouver. (Lisa Farquharson/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Former local grad empowers Langley students at We Day

An annual event aims to inspire youth

Students from Langley got a big dose of inspiration at We Day in Vancouver on Tuesday including from a local graduate.

Grade 7 students from Belmont Elementary and Yorkson Creek Middle School heard inspirational stories from difference makers including retired NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Canadian musician Serena Rider; track and field athlete and philanthropist Rick Hansen; and Canadian television personality Jessi Cruikshank among many others.

Others included Walnut Grove graduate Brady Lumsden who took to the stage in Rogers Arena in front of roughly 20,000 students to share his story about the Weekend Fuelbag initiative, acccording to the Langley School District.

“Weekend Fuelbag is a youth-run organization with the goal of providing malnourished students food on the weekend,” explained Lumsden. “Everyday, roughly 20 per cent of students in B.C. are showing up to school hungry.”

Lumsden was motivated to take on the social issue after he and his cousin decided to help out a friend who was in need.

“We raised money to buy food and see how many people we could support,” he said. “Over the course of three years, the Weekend Fuelbag was able to raise over $115,000 in food and money donations. And with that we were able to provide 35,000 meals to those in need.”

We Day organizers acknowledged Lumsden’s efforts to raise awareness about the social issue and surprised him with a billboard to help raise awareness about the cause.

Current Langley students left the event feeling empowered.

“There was such a positive atmosphere at We Day. It made me feel like I am not too young to make a difference in the world,” said Charis Lai from Belmont Elementary.

An annual event series aimed to empower youth, tickets for We Day aren’t purchased rather earned.

Maryann Balzarini, a teacher at Belmont Elementary, said the school applied for tickets months ago and was awarded 20.

“Receiving tickets was based in part on what our students did last year as leaders in our community,” explained Balzarini.

“Last year, our Grade 6 and 7 students spearheaded many projects from organized hampers at Christmas for needy families in our community, to creating a ‘Chores for Charity’ campaign wherein they raised over $1,700 by encouraging all students to do chores and donate the money they earned doing them to help a needy community have access to clean drinking water.”

Meanwhile, Tamara Pudlas, a teacher at Yorkson Creek, said students from the school left the high-energy event ready to implement change.

“We participate in We Day, because it inspires youth to be catalysts for positive impact in their local and global communities,” she explained. “My group has left energized and ready to use the power of ‘We’ to affect change.”

The school has planned a trip to Kenya in March 2021 where students and staff will get to experience first-hand life in an “Adopt a Village” location in rural Kenya, according to Pudlas.

“Travellers will engage in community development projects and learning modules, cultural immersion like Swahili lessons and Maasai Warrior training, develop leadership and action planning skills and return home changed for the better,” she said.


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