Yesterday marks exactly 2 months since the word 'journalist' was officially added to my job title. It also marks the day I shot my first red carpet.
My day started abruptly with a 4.30am wake up call. By 7am, my colleagues and I were tentatively waiting behind a metal barrier with our camera focused and our microphone positioned. As we, slightly nervously, awaited the arrival of our first interviewee, I found myself reflecting on our journey thus far. Less than 2 months ago, we were hearing the terms ND filter, white balance and iris for the first time, and now we're standing on a red carpet.
Before I could share my thoughts with my colleagues, the excited mob of star-struck tweens that lined the walkway began to chorus "Bluey! Bluey! We love you!" Our first subject had arrived.
My colleagues and I, and a 12,000 strong crowd, had gathered together for WE Day UK. An event that recognises and celebrates the achievements of young people throughout the UK.
Hosted for only the 2nd time in the UK, WE Day is an event with a difference. You can't pay money to get through the door, all attendees have paid in some form with their time. Collectively, the young people that gathered together yesterday had raised some £353,946 to support local and global causes by volunteering over 148,763 hours of service.
These were young people united by a common vision of being the change that they wish to see in the world. This unity, resulted in an atmosphere that was almost electric.
Hollywood legend, Martin Sheen, summarised this energy best when he said to us:
"All of these children you see today are baby comets. They're showing the way, they're lighting the future, and it's theirs!"
Supporting the young people cause completely, the actor shared with us that "acting is what I do for a living, but activism is what I do to stay alive!"
His comments were echoed by a number of the other notable guests, including the grandson of the late President Nelson Mandela, Kweku Mandela, who told us that keeping his grandfather's legacy alive is not only something he tries to do personally but is "a job for everyone that believes in his ideals."
And singer/songwriter, Conor Maynard,
"You watch the news and you rarely ever see a young person getting interviewed about (positive things), the media only turn to young people when its solely about young people's problems, but at the end of the day we all live in the same world, so I think young people should have a voice in more than just things about young people... it is very very important for them to step up and say what they think''
As well as those on stage, I was able to catch up with some of the young people that had won tickets by giving their time. One especially notable group were the St. Saviour's Primary School children who, inspired by the desire of a 4 year old student in reception to help others, have raised over £4000 for children in Syria. They did this in addition to supporting three local charities that help other children their age that are less fortunate than them.
Teacher Floral Vidal, who lead the children's efforts, said of WE Day:
"WE Day is not so much about rewarding the children, because children should want to volunteer. I think it's about a sense of achievement, a chance for them to feel proud that they have helped other children around the world."
When I asked the children what they had learnt from the day, the Year Six students chimed excitedly "whatever race, age or gender you are, you can always change the world!" and "a dream isn't anything unless you pursue it and make it happen."
Despite being almost double their age, these are important lessons that I too took from WE day and indeed, I think are important mantras for life. It was extremely empowering and inspiring to be surrounded by young people who are not only engaged in society but want to see changes in it. And all before they leave school!
I will be making a feature on WE Day as part of the regular London360 show, you can also check out some of the highlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuGEGtaeWww&feature=youtu.be
Images copyright London360