From the teacher volunteering at the local soup kitchen, to the 12-year-old collecting pennies for cancer research, unsung heroes are all around us. The Canadian Living Me to We Awards are all about shining the spotlight on heroes like these – everyday Canadians thinking "we" before "me". Created in 2005 by Canadian Living Magazine and Me to We founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, the awards are now in their fourth year. So far, they have brought many extraordinary Canadians into the public spotlight. And with each winner receiving $5,000 to donate to the charity of his or her choice, they've also given a much-needed boost to incredible not-for-profit organizations from across North America and around the world, helping thousands of people in need.
Youth (12 and under)
LOGAN MACGILLIVRAY • LENDING A HAND IN SIERRA LEONE • BEDFORD, N.S.
Inspiring others to realize they can make a difference, 12-year-old Logan MacGillivray has campaigned across his province to support children in Sierra Leone. With guidance from the Centre for Development and Peace Education (CDPeace), and the help of his basketball team and donations from local businesses, he raised more than $9,000 to send a shipping container full of school, recreation and building supplies to Sierra Leone. "When you are trying to do something good, people will come forward to help," he says. "So nothing is too big to do."
Logan speaks at schools to raise awareness of social issues in Sierra Leone. He is also working on filling a second container with items to equip Listen to the Children, a children's community resource centre in Mayagba, Sierra Leone. The centre will feature a classroom, a library, art, computer and music rooms, an outdoor recreation area and provide assistance in training local teachers.
Last fall, Logan finished a documentary called Listen to the Children; proceeds from DVD sales are donated to the construction of the centre. "I am very honoured that a lot of people feel I have done a good job," he says. "And that means a lot of people are aware of needs in Sierra Leone." - Lisa Fielding
Logan's Me to We Award money will be donated to CDPeace.
Page 1 of 5 - Read page two for the winner of the Youth (13 to 17) category!
Youth (13 to 17)
MATTHEW WARNOCK • BRINGING HOPE TO OTHERS • SURREY, B.C.
When Matthew Warnock was 11 years old, he went to Ghana with his parents, where he helped build water filters and latrines, delivered school supplies and worked in schools. He was struck by the poverty, and returned home with a desire to make a change. Matthew volunteered at the local food bank for two years before he and his sister, Kara, started Hope to Others (H2O), an organization promoting youth action.
Through H2O, Matthew educates and encourages youth to be environmentally friendly and aware of global issues. "I'm a strong believer in youth empowerment, and I love working with kids – that's a joy to me," he says.
Matthew also started the Be the Change program. He and his team make presentations at staff meetings, school assemblies, club meetings and conferences to raise awareness and funds for global issues.
Matthew, now 15, returned to Ghana last spring and hopes to assemble a group of teens for another trip next year. "Anybody can be the change, really. My hope and dream is to stay with this for as long as I can and continue to help. Not just be the change but see the change that is effected through H2O." – Erin Poetschke
Matthew's Me to We Award money will be donated to H2O and used for waterfilters and youth projects in Africa.
YOUTH (12 AND UNDER)
MATTHEW HYNES of Fredericton created Paving the Road of Hope with Loonies after his friend was diagnosed with cancer. Matthew received donations from across Canada, helping his friend’s family pay bills and stay by her bedside at the hospital.
HANNAH NEWBURY chose to spend a container of pennies on healthy food for her church's Food Drawer. She then created the Penny Project to donate to a mission in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
YOUTH (13 TO 17)
LASHAWN MURRAY volunteers in Toronto and participates in programs and initiatives for community development. Saturdays, she reads with kids at a community centre.
DARREN COLE started KIDSPACK in Toronto in response to a need for school supplies among lower-income families. This past year he founded Kids Against Canadian Hunger, which raises money for the Canadian Association of Food Banks.
Page 2 of 5 - Read page three for the social action winner, Hetty Van Gurp!
HETTY VAN GURP • GIVING PEACE A CHANCE • GRANVILLE FERRY, N.S.
Hetty van Gurp's son Ben was 14 when he died after being pushed by a bully. Frustrated by her loss, she was determined to do something about bullying. Hetty, a teacher, introduced a campaign called "Lessons in Living" in 1991; its aim, to teach students how to live and learn together. "It's a child's right to feel safe at school," says the 60-year-old activist. Hetty was invited to work with schools throughout Nova Scotia to end bullying.
In 2001, Hetty founded Peaceful Schools International, an organization devoted to creating safe learning environments for students. The organization has since grown to include 300 schools in Canada and around the world. With the help of the Canadian International Development Agency, Hetty spread her message of peaceful classrooms in areas traumatized by violent conflict, such as Northern Ireland, Serbia and Sierra Leone.
She hopes to set up satellite branches of her organization and says the first one would be in Pakistan. Although combating bullying has become a full-time job for Hetty, she continues to actively pursue the same goal she has had since her days as a teacher in Halifax: "To see peace education as part of everyday life in schools." – Toni Petter
Hetty's Me to We Award money will go to Peaceful Schools International.
VERONICA SCHAMI created Readers for Life, an organization that promotes literacy awareness. Since its launch three years ago, Readers for Life has donated 1,000 new books to elementary schools in Montreal.
CATHERINE ROBAR of Halifax created The Themba Development Project in South Africa, which supports 600 people living in Thembalethu with food and gardening supplies. Check out The Themba Development Project's website at www.thembaproject.org
GLYN HUGHES founded Students 4 Change, a social justice group that encourages students at George McDougall High School in Airdrie, Alta., to make a positive impact in the world.
HEATHER COEY is a teacher and student leadership adviser at Reynolds Secondary School in Victoria. She worked with students to form the Green Group, which initiated several ongoing environmentally conscious projects.
CAROLINE MACGILLIVRAY founded Beauty Night, a nonproï¬�t, volunteer-based organization that provides makeovers and wellness programs to adults and youth in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
NANCY MCPHEE launched Stephen's Backpacks Society for homeless children in Edmonton and Calgary. She has organized a group to put together backpacks filled with books, toys, clothing, towels and school supplies.
Page 3 of 5 - Read page 4 for the educator award and the Free the Children Awards shortlist!
AMANDA FINGERHUT • BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME • TORONTO, ONT.
It all started at a Toronto District School Board Cabaret Singers rehearsal. There, Amanda Fingerhut, a math teacher at Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto, met Vivian Shapiro, the education director of the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation. When Amanda learned about the foundation, which works to increase the self-esteem, character and leadership skills of youth, she knew she had to get involved. So five years ago, she helped coordinate the first Future Aces leadership conference.
Each year 200 students from 24 Toronto-area schools are invited; they attend leadership and community-service workshops, participate in group sessions (such as team-building challenges) and meet with positive role models, including the foundation's founder, Herbert Carnegie. After the conference, the students go back to school armed with the tools they need to make an immediate difference; they form groups and do community service.
Now, thanks to a charitable grant, Amanda teaches part time, splitting her week between the classroom and the foundation. "My passion is helping kids succeed," she says. "That's why I do this." – Wendy Graves
Amanda's Me to We Award money will be donated to the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation.
FREE THE CHILDREN AWARD SHORTLIST
Winner to be announced on We Day, Sept. 29, 2009.
LILY DART, PETERBOROUGH, ONT.,
founded Kids for All Kids (KFAK) to promote children's education rights. Lily raises awareness and funds through the local media and bake sales. She led a vow of silence campaign, and motivated kids as young as five to donate their birthday and allowance money. KFAK has raised enough money to build and outfit a school in Kenya.
CALVIN MITCHELL, OTTAWA,
founded the Humanitarian Club and a Brick by Brick program at his school, raising funds and awareness through public speaking. He has led three vow of silence campaigns, collected books for Invisible Children in Uganda, raised funds for UNICEF and contributed to Plan Canada's goat donation program.
DOMINIQUE SAAB, NANAIMO, B.C.,
is head of her local Free the Children group. She founded Brick by Brick Nanaimo, spearheads various fund-raising efforts and speaks to students at local schools. In a small community, and with limited contact with Free the Children, Dominique's achievements demonstrate her motivation and commitment.
Page 4 of 5 - Read page 5 for the community winner and a note from Craig and Marc of Free the Children
WAYNE DONALDSON • BREAKING THE CYCLE OF CHILD POVERTY • BURLINGTON, ONT.
It was witnessing the effects of child poverty in Africa two years ago that spurred Wayne Donaldson into action. "Unlike many Canadians, children in developing countries simply can't cut back on spending to make ends meet," says Wayne, the vice- president of purchasing and marketing at Rexel Canada Electrical Inc.
Prompted by the ever-rising price of food and fuel, Wayne felt it was time to make a change. He and a friend decided that, instead of going out for dinner, they'd host dinners at their homes and donate the money they'd save to a charity. This soon snowballed into Hungry for Change, a campaign that provides fun opportunities for people to get together with their friends and families while raising funds for vulnerable children around the world. Last year, electrical companies across Canada joined the challenge by hosting fund-raisers.
To date, the Hungry for Change campaign has raised $200,000 in support of nutrition programs in Canada, Ghana, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Bolivia and Ethiopia. Although the committee's ultimate goal is to have all electrical companies across the nation participate, Wayne would also like to extend an invitation to other Canadian industries. – Sarah Jane Silva
Wayne's Me to We Award money will be donated to Hungry for Hungry for Change.
A note from Craig and Marc
It's been a busy time for us at Free the Children and our sister organization, Me to We. Here's what we've been up to over the past year.
• We launched Celebrate for Change, a new campaign in which kids receive donations for peers in need around the world instead of birthday presents.
• For our Halloween for Hunger, a campaign in which youth trick-or-treat for nonperishable food items instead of candy, Canadian kids collected about 25,000 kilograms of food.
• We Day, the largest one-day event of its kind, celebrated the power of young people to change the lives of others.
• Me to We launched several new products to nurture young global citizens. Those products include the Degrassi Goes to Kenya DVD (the cast of the popular TV show teaches kids how to build a better world); The Small Things, the debut album of socially conscious Canadian singer Louise Kent; and a new book, My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah, by Robin Wiszowaty.
To get your kids involved, visit www.freethechildren.com and www.metowe.com.
Page 5 of 5