Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School students Josh Bower, Sydney Fougere and Brandy Nickerson will be traveling to Kenya in March 2014 to help build a school as part of the Me to We program. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
Twenty Grade 11 students from high schools in the Tri-County board are leaving Wednesday, March 5, for what is expected to be a life-changing experience.
The students, who will also be joined by five chaperones, are part of the Tri-County Me to We group. The group is heading to Ghana to help build a school to help children, who might otherwise not be able to, to obtain an education. The students have been very busy over the past year raising funds for the building of the school.
(You can click here to read a story we previously wrote last spring about the Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School students who are making the trek, and those who have already participated in a Me to We experience.)
“During the week we will be immersed in the community, and the Ghana culture, interacting with locals and participating in leadership modules each evening,” explains Andrea Huskilson, a school board member who brought the Me to We experience to students in the Tri-County Regional School Board a few years ago.
Me to We was founded in 2008 by Canadian brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger who are also involved with Free the Children. Huskilson talks about what the students will be exposed to and participating in while in Ghana.
“We will learn about the Atlantic slave trade while visiting one of the ‘Slave Castles,’ which helps bring to life the horrors of that part of our own history in Nova Scotia as the location for many of the Black Loyalists who escaped slavery in the south,” she says. “We will develop relationships with mothers, fathers and children who are struggling to survive and improve their way of life.
“We will work to make bricks, dig trenches and build a school so that children in this community will have the opportunity to have an education,” Huskilson adds. “In the evenings, our students will have speakers to teach them about other issues that affect many in the African culture, like the AIDS epidemic, clean water availability, lack of education, sanitation, starvation and much more.”
Huskilson says the students will gain “a world of understanding” by immersing themselves in another culture and seeing first-hand how they can make a difference in the world one small step at a time.
Before arriving in Ghana, however, the first stop for the group will be in London, where they will attend the first-ever We Day UK on March 7.
We Day UK is a global youth empowerment event that will host around 12,000 young people.
“We will hear from passionate social activists who will address different social and global issues and teach them that they, a small group from Tri-County Nova Scotia, can make an impact affecting other communities and families for lifetimes to come,” says Huskilson.
Some of the speakers and performers at the We Day UK will include Prince Harry, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, Academy and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson, Brit songstress Ellie Goulding, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch, paralympian Martine Wright and The Tenors. The complete list is a long one.
Also to speak will be the Kielburger brothers, Molly Burke, a visually impaired Me to We motivational speaker who speaks out against bullying and the power of hope (she was a speaker in Yarmouth a couple of months ago) and Free the Children ambassador Spencer West.
Also speaking at We Day UK will be Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for girls’ education who survived a Taliban execution attempt when she was shot in the head in October 2012 while traveling home from school.
“It’s going to be an amazing, life-changing day,” says Huskilson. The following day the group will head for Ghana, where she says the life-changing experience will continue,
Meanwhile, one of the We Day UK speakers will also be making a stop in southwestern Nova Scotia next month.
Spencer West will be speaking at Barrington Municipal High School on April 14. West’s legs were amputated below the pelvis when he was five years old due to a genetic disorder. But he hasn’t stopped him from doing things in life, including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on his hands and in his wheelchair.
A public speaker with Free the Children, the 31-year-old spent over a year with a personal trainer in preparation for the climb, which has raised over $500,000 to create clean water programs in Kenya.
“Spencer uses his personal struggles to encourage young people to look beyond their own circumstances and see how they can make a difference for others and to better themselves,” says Huskilson. “Having him come to speak to local students will help to inspire them to work to make a difference.”
You can click here to read a story about some of the Digby County students who are making the me to We trip.
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