By Mike Cohen
This year over 200,000 young people will come together in 14 cities across Canada, the United States, and the UK to take part WE Day, an unparalleled educational initiative. Quite simply, WE Schools prepare students for success in life. Through educational resources and service campaigns, students further their curricular learning and develop the life skills for success. Together they offer young people the tools and the inspiration to take social action, empower others and transform lives—including their own.
In Montreal, WE Day will be celebrated at the Théâtre St. Denis Feb. 21 and 22. Toronto brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger are the leaders of this movement. The co-emcee will be a remarkable 15 year old Toronto social activist and teen blogger named Hannah Alper. She already has a pretty impressive reputation as a motivational speaker. In addition, she is now one of the youngest published authors in North America , committed to promoting big change through small, everyday actions while believing in the power of young people to shape the world they want to live in.
I spoke with Hannah by telephone and what an absolutely charming young lady she is.
“I went to my first WE Day when I was 15,” she Hannah said. “To be the emcee is a real thrill.I will be co-hosting with a 13 year old boy named Ty Young. Ty is in a wheelchair, but he does not see that as an obstacle. He is an incredible inspiration.”
Alper’s first book is called Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change. She is committed to promoting big change through small, everyday actions and believes in the power of young people to shape the world they want to live in. Momentus shares this journey on the global stage and demonstrates her message coming to life.
“I believe that if there are many of us making small actions, it will lead to big change,” said Hannah, sharing her thanks to publisher NELSON. “The title of this book grew out of that idea. When all of our actions are added up, the impact will be momentous and we will change the world. It is about all of us and all of our moments when we are inspired, passionate and moved to act—momentus.”
Comprised of various individual profiles, Momentus explores the lives of the social activists that have inspired Hannah during her lifetime and the significant impacts they are making on our world. Featuring 19 exclusive interviews—conducted by Hannah herself—with activists, celebrities and youth change-makers such as Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Peace Prize Winner), Lilly Singh, AKA ‘Superwoman’ (Youtube Creator and Author), Lily Collins (Actress and model), Michael “Pinball” Clemons (Former Toronto Argonauts player), Marc and Craig Kielburger (Founders of WE), Travis Price (Co-founder of Pink Shirt Day), Blake Mycoskie (Founder of TOMS), and Brad Montague (Creator of Kid President), the book highlights practical examples of the power of positive change in the world, whether large or small. Topics include discussion on acts of change surrounding the environment, education, bullying, equality and inclusivity.
Momentus includes a foreword written by the Kielburger that speaks to Hannah’s ability to inspire greatness in others through her belief that every person on earth—no matter what age they may be—has the power to make a world of difference as long as they have the courage to act.
“When we first met Hannah, she was only nine years old, and she completely blew us away,” said Craig Kielburger. “In all that she did, she exuded passion, positivity and purpose. After years of dedicating her time and energy to the causes she cares most about, she has since grown as an activist, blogger and impassioned public speaker who uses her voice to remind us that us there is always more work to be done and that we can all play a part in doing something about it.”
Hannah, a Grade 9 student at Toronto’s Alexander Mackenzie High School in Toronto, told me that she wants to be a journalist professionally. “My end goal is to work at CNN,” she said.
As for her involvement in the Jewish community, she is part or the B’nai Brith Youth Organization and headed to Orlando for their international convention. She also attends Camp Gesher, part of the Labour-Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror near Cloyne, Ontario – some three and half hours outside of Toronto.
Hannah has a great publicist in her dad in Eric Alper (www.ThatEricAlper.com), who does this for a living.