MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WE Day returned to the Xcel Energy Center Tuesday for the third time.
Eighteen-thousand students from all over Minnesota spent the day hearing inspirational messages about community service and volunteering.
The all-day field trip was a reward for the work they have already completed or plan to do this school year.
The speakers encouraged the students to be creative and do research about ways to help others, both locally and globally. It was a message well-received
The X was home to non-stop action for nearly four hours, and thousands of students filled the arena with enthusiasm and optimism, chanted, “We will change the world!” They are ready to take their commitment to community service to the next level.
Edward Win is a senior at Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park.
“We got to start caring about each other. Sharing is caring,” Win said. “We should start sending the message out to help each other out because there’s people in the struggles.”
National figures like Chelsea Clinton and Henry Winkler shared personal stories and made it clear it is cool to care.
Kim Msuya is a freshman at Andover High School.
“It’s like the future. I mean, we’re like setting up what the world is going to be about,” Msuya said. “Right now, we may care about what we think, but we have to help others to build up the community.”
These students say they value their volunteer work.
“It teaches you a lesson. Like some people complain about what they don’t have, but really people should like learn about what people don’t have in other states,” Andover High School freshman Hannah Higginbotham said.
Performances by pop stars Nico and Vinz, Natalie LaRose and Ciara made the day a celebration. Christopher Nickeas is a senior at Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park.
“I really liked the program. You know, I think it helps raise awareness to kids, you know, saying that we have a voice, we’re out there, we can help and stuff like that. I mean, it’s amazing,” he said.
WE Day came to Minnesota in 2013 from Canada. This is the third time it has been held in St. Paul, and in that short time the program has expanded from 400 schools across the state to more than 550 today.
Minnesota has about 200,000 students who are participating in service projects that are organized by their schools, with help from the founders of WE Day.
Teachers say they have seen a positive change in students who are participating in WE Day projects at their schools.
It has started a new conversation. Instead of being focused on the things that teenagers are often obsessed with, they are spending more time thinking about other people.
Students are doing things like organizing fundraisers to bring clean water to rural villages overseas or to build schools. And they are mentoring younger kids and conducting food drives.