Calgary Take Action Academy
Written by Jessie Lanigan, Youth Programming Coordinator at Free The Children
It has now been a month since I returned from the best experience of the summer – not only for 29 youth from across Alberta, but for myself. As the Youth Programming Coordinator for Alberta, naturally I was excited when I heard that the first Take Action Academy
was being held in Calgary. Not only was this my first opportunity to personally meet the youth that I work with on a daily basis, but it also gave me the chance to truly understand the purpose of our Me to We programming
and the value of exposing youth to Free The Children and our Adopt a Village model
Every day was different at Calgary Academy
. After our morning energizers, which usually consisted of countless battles of ninja, we would take part in leadership modules and team builders. This is where the magic happened; the heart of Academy. It was through these workshops that our youth not only brought their ideas on leadership and social issues to the group, but they also discussed their own personal struggles and challenges. Establishing trust between the participants came quickly as each participant shared their fears on coming to camp in order to learn more about themselves and the world around them.
One of my favourite days was on our Take Action Day where we volunteered at the Calgary Food Bank
and participated in a community cleanup project in a local park. At the Calgary Food Bank, youth took action as they counted and organized hundreds of cans of food for the local community. Youth also picked up garbage in the park and then decided to beautify the park by writing inspiring words on the paths of the park. Later on in the week, youth took time to discover what they were passionate about and started to form action plans to carry out on their return home. Action plans consisted of numerous events, bake sales, swimathons and fundraisers for their own Me to We trip
. After some youth shared their action plans at the banquet on the last night, we surprised the group with a personal asante sana (thank you) from Craig, all the way from Kenya, to the first Take Action Academy in Alberta. Everyone couldn’t have been happier, so we celebrated the week and danced the night away.
The next morning it was time to say our goodbyes. As the families piled in to pick up their youth, we began to realize that not only were our youth ready to take action in their local and global communities but their siblings, parents and grandparents were also ready to get involved! Grandmothers and granddaughters were planning on volunteering for We Day
together. Sisters and brothers surprised their siblings as they just returned from Kenya
on a Me to We trip
. Mothers and fathers were excited for their workplace to get involved with We Day. This is when my co-facilitators and I realized that Alberta couldn’t be more ready for all things We Day
, Free The Children and Me to We! When the last participant was picked up, I headed for the airport with a wrist full of new friendship bracelets and all the confidence in the world that Alberta’s youth are ready change the world.