On November 16, 2012, students at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School got the opportunity of a lifetime. Marc Kielburger, co-founder of the charity Free The Children, came to STM to congratulate students on their successful Halloween 4 Hunger campaign and to discuss other fundraisers involving Free The Children.
Marc Kielburger and his brother Craig are the co-founders of Free The Children, an international development and youth empowerment program. Since 1995, they have built over 650 schools throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America and have established over 30,000 alternative income projects made to assist women and their families in developing sustainable income. From this stemmed Me to We, a social enterprise which encourages ethical living and social responsibility. It’s major goal is to bring Free The Children’s administrative rate to zero percent, meaning all money earned by the charity will go to charitable programs. Me to We includes international volunteer travel programs, leadership camps, a publishing house, a music label and the largest organic made-in-Canada clothing line.
Since Free The Children’s creation, Marc has become an activist for social change and has a busy career speaking publicly on behalf of the charity. He attained a degree in International Relations from Harvard University and continued to study at Oxford where he completed a law degree with an emphasis on human rights. Since then, he has received nine honorary doctorates and degrees for his work in the field of education and human rights. He is the co-author of three international best-sellers, the recipient of the Order of Canada and was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of 250 Young Global Leaders. Marc’s work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, CNN, BBC and many other news and print media.
Kielburger came to St. Thomas More to speak to the school about our wildly successful Halloween 4 Hunger campaign, which raised over 75,000 pounds of non-perishable food items for Neighbour to Neighbour food bank. With this astounding total, St. Thomas More became Free The Children’s largest Halloween 4 Hunger campaign in the world. After addressing the student body on CMOR, Marc sat down with the Halloween 4 Hunger committee and a few other students to discuss the campaign, as well as give advice on how to get further involved in the community.
When asked what kept him motivated throughout the obstacles and challenges he faced with Free The Children, Marc explained it was “…seeing measureable social change. It’s not the work that’s important; it’s the measurable social impact.” Helping others is important and valuable but what motivates him to work harder is seeing a difference in the community and in the communities Free The Children helps.
Marc also gave a key piece of advice to those who wish to help their community but don’t know how, in the form of a foolproof formula: “gift + issue = change.” Everyone has a gift, a talent that you excel at. When combined with an issue you care about, your gift can lead to social change. For example, a talented hockey player concerned with homelessness could host a hockey tournament to raise money for homeless shelters and create change in the community.
It is also important to remember that you shouldn’t expect to change to world all at once. Marc mentioned a quote by his role model Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” If you start by helping just one person, eventually your efforts will add up and create major change.
It was a great honour to have Marc Kielburger take time out of his day to visit our school and teach us about social change. The St. Thomas More school community would like to extend a huge thank you to Marc and his brother Craig for inspiring our students and motivating us to create change in our community.