It's been a big year for young people in the UK.
Last March, 12,000 students packed the SSE Arena in Wembley and committed to being change makers in their communities and the world. At the inaugural We Day UK, globally renowned speakers and performers - including Sir Richard Branson, Pakistani girls' education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and music stars Ellie Goulding and Dizzee Rascal - ignited an incredible energy in the crowd and challenged them to take action.
The results have been astounding.
In the last school year, more than 50,000 students from 1,200 schools in the UK took part in We Act. It's a year-long programme that gives young people free educational resources (including assemblies, campaigns and workshops) that help them turn the inspiration of We Day into sustained social action. Young people from Penzance in Cornwall to West Lothian, Scotland, volunteered close to 150,000 hours and raised more than £350,000 for local and global causes.
They also became part of a worldwide movement that celebrates the potential of young people to be agents of change in their communities. Globally, the We Day stadium-sized events bring together 200,000 young people every year in 14 cities in North America and the UK. When young people are surrounded with thousands of inspired peers, they know they're not alone in desiring change. They are empowered to use their time, talent and voices to make a difference.
And so what began 20 years ago as a dozen 12-year-olds in our parents' living room has become a movement of over three million young people around the world. Whether it's the environment or knife crime, homelessness in their hometown or poverty overseas, we've learned that young people want to make a difference.
As parents, one of the greatest things we can do for our children is encourage them to help others. Sure, we know our support helps (a lot) on UCAS applications, but instilling the spirit of service gives so much more: meaningful new friendships, a sense of purpose and community, and the self-esteem that comes from being defined by the contribution you make instead of the clothes you wear.
Together, We Day and We Act form a blueprint for harnessing the ideas and energy of a young generation of active global citizens. Surveys by third-party research firm Mission Measurement found that 93% of We Day UK participants felt more aware of local and global issues. Ninety-one per cent are now more likely to demonstrate empathy and consideration, and 92% of those whose parent did not attend university now see a greater importance in continuing their own education.
On 5 March 2015, We Day UK co-chairs Lord Rumi Verjee and Holly Branson will welcome 12,000 more students from as far away as Luthermuir Primary School in Aberdeenshire to the SSE Arena, where they will reignite their passion and renew their commitment to being change makers for another year. We Day UK is free of charge thanks to the generous support of our co-title supporters, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Barclays. Each young person in attendance has earned their ticket through actions of local and global service.
Last March in London, Prince Harry took the stage at The SSE Arena and told the electrified crowd, "Some people don't think it's cool to help others. Personally, I think it's the coolest thing in the world." We agree. So do the young people of the UK.
Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger founded a platform for social change that includes the international charity, Free The Children, the social enterprise, Me to We, and the youth empowerment movement, We Day.