I recently had the privilege of interviewing a young Ottawa boy by the name of Tyler, regarding his recent involvement in Free The Children & RBC’s, We Create Change program. One of Canada’s largest penny drives and coinciding with the penny going out of circulation, the We Create Change campaign is challenging Canadians to donate their pennies to an important cause: water.
Tyler is one of the many amazing children across Canada who has pledged to make a difference. He convinced a group of 10 of his hockey buddies to band together to begin their first Free The Children campaign. I asked Tyler (and his Mom) a few questions about his campaign and here is what he had to say:
CD: Why did you choose to start your own Free The Children campaign?
Tyler: Since I was little, I always liked doing charity work so it was kind of natural for me to want to be a part of this. I thought it would be fun to do with my friends and in our first meeting I showed them the child labour video and they wanted to be a part of it.
CD: How much money did you guys raise and what were some of the methods you used to raise money?
Tyler: We raised $1,028. We had an Iced Tea stand, we set up, as a group, at the Independent Grocer, we collected door to door and we used email to share our message.
CD: Do you know how the money you raised translated into providing clean water?
Tyler: Our money will provide clean water for 41 people, for life.
CD: (Question for Tyler’s Mom) You guys are obviously doing something right with your kids, so can you give some advice to other parents who want to help get their children involved in wanting to give back?
Tyler’s Mom: It’s something we’ve been doing since they were little and I’ve been looking for ways to get more involved. I saw Marc Kielburger speak at the Ottawa Catholic School Board and realized it was just about seeing what there is out there. We’ve gone to the retirement home and the kids helped out with craft time. The most important thing is to find whatever gets you excited and follow that. I also got a lot of ideas and inspiration from the videos on the Free The Children website and also from Marc and Craig Kielburger’s book, “The World Needs Your Kid”.
CD: Tyler, I want to ask you the same question but as it relates to kids. What advice can you give to kids who are nervous about starting their own campaign?
Tyler: Be confident. Try to set our clear goals. Get friends who want to help and put in as much time as you can in to it.
CD: What kind of goals and dreams do you have?
Tyler: I had a dream last week that I was in Africa, showing kids their new homes and that is something that I would really love to do when I’m older, or right now, haha.
I want to thank Tyler and his family for giving me the time to talk to them about his amazing work, and I want to commend him on being such an inspiration for not just our youth, but to all of us. It was an absolute honour to talk with him and you can look forward to more amazing stories about youth who are making a difference in the world, as I continue this feature in the weeks and months to come. Before I go, here are a few more stats about the We Create Change campaign.
To mark the end of the school year, Free The Children and RBC celebrated the incredible fundraising effort of hundreds of thousands of youth and their schools through the “We Create Change“ penny drive, by announcing the final total, which outweighs approximately 64 elephants and more than five empty Boeing 747’s. Young people across the country raised 140 million pennies ($1.4 million), providing 56,000 people with clean water for life. All pennies collected were in support of Free The Children’s year-long Water Initiative to provide a permanent source of clean water to people in developing countries.