Cody Thiessen, an Oak Lake Gr. 7 student did something that most people never do. Chosen first by his school and peers, then by the organizers of WE Day, the youth spoke on a big, brightly lit stage before an audience of about 15,000 in Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, on Oct. 30.
The WE Day movement, just seven years old, is a celebration of young people committed to making a difference in the world. WE Schools, a yearlong program, nurtures compassion in young people, empowering them to create change locally and globally.
Reacting to his stage debut he said, “I feel happy that I was chosen because that’s an amazing opportunity.”
His parents, Mike and Cheryl Thiessen were excited for their son. The whole family attended, enjoying front row seats.
His mom said, “Cody has always been a strong leader. We really felt that this was an important opportunity. I think it’s a stepping stone for him.”
School Principal Brenda Masson explained how it unfolded:
“We were asked as a school to choose a leader from among our students.” She said Oak Lake Community school has participated in a number of local and global projects “for our kids to be ‘difference makers’ in the world.”
When they were asked who should represent them, the students selected Cody Thiessen.
The winning project
Because hockey is important among Oak Lake students, and because Cody plays goal for the Virden Pee Wee – Hall team, the Humboldt Broncos’ tragedy in 2017 really touched Cody, as it had other students.
It was natural for him to choose their week-long project in support of the Broncos and Humboldt community as his We Day speech.
Following Oak Lake School’s application to WE Day, Cody received a phone call for a 10-minute interview with an event organizer to determine his eligibility as a speaker.
Principal Masson was proud of how the 12-year-old student handled that interview and before the conversation was over, he was invited to be on stage at WE Day.
The big day came, Oct. 30, in the MTS Centre where, along with another student speaker, Cody was called up. He presented a brief of the school’s Humboldt support:
"Our school was devastated by the Humboldt Broncos accident. Myself and many students at my school play hockey and are really passionate about it. Students and staff at our school took the initiative to create a play and facilitated a Junk Food Walk and donated all the proceeds to the Humboldt Broncos. We dedicated an entire week to honor them by wearing green and yellow hockey jerseys and chose to send postcards to them and their families to show our love and support.”
Speaking at WE Day was an exhilarating experience for the adolescent. It left a lasting impression and he said, “After that, I felt inspired to help out more people. I want to do more stuff like that. I want to talk in front of people to help them… It inspired me.”