On May 14, 2015, over five thousand students from across the Algoma district attended #Youthesoo at the Essar Centre. This empowering event for youth was brought to Sault Ste. Marie through the collaborative efforts of the Algoma District School Board (ADSB), Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB), Algoma Arts Festival Association and international charity and educational partner Free the Children. Student Trustees and Co-chairs of the ADSB Student Senate Maya Werner and Madison MacLachlan represented ADSB students throughout the #Youthesoo planning process and supported the decision to fund part of this year’s event from Project ABCD (Action for Building a Community that is Drug-Free) funds.
Maya and Madison provided an overview of the event to the Board of Trustees, explaining their role in the planning of the day and their role as spokespersons at the event.
#Youthesoo featured local, national and international entertainers and speakers who empowered youth to become active local and global citizens. Speakers included Craig Kielburger, children’s rights activist and the co-founder of Free the Children, and Spencer West who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro after he lost both his legs from the pelvis down. Special musical guest, critically acclaimed R&B/hip hop artist JRDN also entertained the audience.
Part way through the event Madison and Maya took to the stage where they were joined by HSCDSB Student Trustees and together they led a pledge which the entire auditorium spoke together. Madison addressed the 5000+ crowd in both official languages and spoke about her role as student trustee and her work within the community. “As a trustee, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about all the big initiatives that are going on in our schools. I’ve also had the privilege of sitting on many planning committees that have helped to move positive change forward in our community. By participating in my community I feel like I’ve found my place within it by meeting like-minded individuals who are also passionate about change. I encourage you all to value your strength and your passion; to pursue every opportunity available to you; to contribute actively to our community and our world. I look forward to seeing how this event will inspire each and every one of you.”
Maya echoed Madison’s sentiments and spoke passionately about seizing opportunities. “We are so lucky to be here today taking in the experiences of so many motivated individuals and using this event to inspire us to implement change in the world. I recently got back from Europe as a Global Citizen Scholarship Recipient. I was able to take my passion of ending the stigma towards mental illness and to seize the opportunity I had to take my action on a global scale by applying for this scholarship. I took a risk to make change in society and I am here to encourage you all to follow what your heart feels is right as well.”
For Algoma District School Board, this event acted as the culmination of work done this year with ABCD and was a chance for students to come together to celebrate student voice and enjoy some tremendous entertainment. Like #Youthesoo, ABCD empowers youth and reminds them that their choices matter and that they should look beyond themselves to their local and global communities. Over the past 2 years, ADSB Student Senate has been working in elementary and secondary schools to promote the work of Dr. Matt Bellace who advocates natural, instead of chemical, highs.
Director of Education Lucia Reece congratulated ADSB students on their hard work in planning #Youthesoo: “We are very proud of the leadership our students demonstrated with respect to the planning of this event. Maya, Madison and the entire Student Senate were instrumental in the planning and execution of this tremendous youth-inspired event. It was a wonderful way to culminate and celebrate the work of all the youth in our schools who are trying to impact change in their communities and abroad. We believe this event motivated our youth and empowered them to impact social change.”