SEATTLE, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- International charity and educational partner Free The Children is pleased to announce the first-ever U.S. We Day, featuring Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev amongst many other notable speakers and performers. This youth-led empowerment event will take place in Seattle on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at Key Arena, thanks in part to Co-Title Sponsor, Microsoft, and a partnership with Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and A Better Seattle. After a six-year history of inspirational and impactful We Day events coupled with a year-long service program engaging hundreds of thousands of youth across Canada, Free The Children will make its U.S. debut to 15,000 students from schools across the Pacific Northwest at We Day Seattle in March with a planned expansion to key cities across the U.S. to follow.
"Free The Children was founded by my classmates and me in 1995 when I was 12 years old," said Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children. "We've grown from a small group of passionate kids who launched fundraisers and petitions to promote child rights to an educational partner providing service learning and civic engagement opportunities to more than 3,500 schools and a network of almost two million young active global citizens. We are thrilled to bring our first U.S. We Day to the Seattle area, connecting students and teachers to world-renowned speakers and performers, such as past speakers Sir Richard Branson and Magic Johnson, and singers Nelly Furtado and Jennifer Hudson."
The official announcement was made this morning by Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith at Federal Way High School, located south of Seattle, to a crowd of 2,000 area students, as well as education officials and community leaders. He was joined on stage by Kielburger and Carroll who unveiled Gorbachev as the first speaker confirmed for We Day Seattle. Additional speakers and performers will be announced in the coming months. Other notable guests in attendance included U.S. Freestyle Skier Patrick Deneen, Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman, and former child soldier Michel Chikwanine.
We Day is free for students and teachers to attend thanks in part to the generous lead support of Microsoft and other individuals and foundations. In return, students must earn their way in through service by taking one local and one global action to better the world through a year-long program called We Act. This year-long service learning program offers Washington schools speaking tours, educational resources, domestic service campaigns, international volunteer opportunities and support to help youth and teachers take action on any issue or cause.
"As part of our recently announced Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, the We Day and We Act programs will be exciting opportunities to empower and inspire young people to work together for positive change," said Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Microsoft. "We're pleased to help thousands of Puget Sound youth spark change, big and small, both here at home and beyond."
"We are excited to partner with and help expand the work of Free The Children in order to educate and empower students and teachers throughout the State of Washington," said Seahawks Head Coach Carroll, founder of A Better Seattle and known for his passion for helping young people. "Making an impact doesn't have to wait — they can make a huge difference right now and play a big part in building safe and healthy communities for years and generations to come."
Students and teachers can learn more about We Day and We Act and how they can get involved by visiting www.weday.com/seattle. Washington schools have already started to make a difference. Shorewood High School in Shoreline, Wash., raised more than $10,000 in the past year to support Free The Children's international development communities in Kenya, building a new school from the ground up.
On the heels of a successful We Day Toronto on September 28, the We Day Seattle announcement continues the movement's momentum. In Toronto, an epic line-up of iconic social activists and inspiring entertainers, including headliners Jennifer Hudson, Nelly Furtado, Martin Sheen and Past President of Doctors Without Borders James Orbinski, led an electrified crowd of 20,000 students to take action for global change.
The thousands of youth attending We Day Vancouver on October 18 will hear from Basketball Hall-of-Fame legend Magic Johnson; singer-songwriter Demi Lovato; Platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated, American pop/rock band OneRepublic; and Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Access to behind-the-scenes We Day moments (videos and photos) is available at weday.com/press. Connect with the We Day movement today: #weday, @freethechildren @craigkielburger, or www.facebook.com/weday.
About Free The Children
Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that has more than 1.7 million young people involved in its programs in 45 countries. Founded in 1995 by international activist Craig Kielburger, Free The Children believes in a world where young people are free to achieve their fullest potential, and empowers youth to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens. The organization's domestic programs—which includes We Day, Free The Children's signature youth empowerment event—educate, engage and empower hundreds of thousands of youth in North America, the UK and around the world to become engaged global citizens. Its international projects have brought more than 650 schools and school rooms to youth and provided clean water and sanitation, health care and food security to one million people around the world, freeing children and their families from the cycle of poverty.
The organization has received the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child (also known as the Children's Nobel Prize), the Human Rights Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, and has formed successful partnerships with leading school boards and Oprah's Angel Network. For more information, visit www.freethechildren.com.
Media contact: Alexis Black, Current -- 312-929-0504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Free The Children