The story of the origins of Free the Children and We Day is at once humbling and incredibly powerful. Founded in 1995 by then 12-year-old, Canadian-born, Craig Kielburger, Free the Children was set up to liberate children and communities from poverty, and the idea that they are powerless. In so doing, Craig’s work has empowered countless children all over the globe to live their new story.
Never let anyone tell you we cannot change the world. IT IS POSSIBLE!
Flashlight Story from Change Generation Rising
As Craig was flipping through the newspaper looking for comics, he discovered an article about Iqbal Masih, an escaped child labourer who had become a children’s rights activist. Shocked, he addressed his class at school: ‘I don’t know what, but we have to do something. Who will join me?’ Eleven hands went up and – Free The Children was born! Craig travelled to Asia, interviewed kids, reported back, spoke to Congress and on talk shows to raise awareness. What next? Stopping child labour at its roots! When adults said it was hopeless, they did not listen. To date, their holistic Adopt-a-Village program has built 650 schools and school rooms, medical clinics, clean water projects and alternative income projects in eight countries. Free The Children chapters exist in 9,000 schools, proving every day: ‘It Is Possible!’
As Craig and his brother Marc got engaged in 500 projects in 40 countries, they were impressed by the cheerfulness and generosity of people living in poverty, often lacking even basic food and clothing. The secret behind this, they found, is that they are loving, giving, sharing so much. “We have to bring this spirit back to Canada,” they decided. In 2008, they founded a new lifestyle movement to change our perception from ME TO WE, with a pinnacle event uniting thousands of young activists for celebration and kicking off a year-round series of action: WE DAY! See our recent video blog We Day.
Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 2.3 million youth involved in its innovative education and development programs. Since its inception, Free The Children has worked in more than 45 countries. Free The Children currently works in eight developing countries with its Adopt A Village program. The charity’s goal is to empower young people to remove barriers that prevent them from being active local and global citizens. Its original motto – “children helping children”.