By Chloé Fedio
They came with energy for dancing, healthy lungs for screaming - and smartphones to stay connected.
Between performances by Down With Webster and K’naan, and inspirational speeches by Alexandre Bilodeau and Deepak Chopra, the 18,000 Toronto-area students who attended We Day Thursday were Tweeting, Facebooking and sending texts that scrolled along the bottom of the giant screen in the Air Canada Centre.
Thousands whipped out their phones when emcee Ben Mulroney announced a social media break. Free The Children co-founder Craig Kielburger, included. He sent nearly 40 Tweets during the event – via iPhone and BlackBerry.
Social networking is a big part of Free The Children, the organization that runs We Day. For every person who “likes” We Day on Facebook, the organization will receive $1 from their sponsor.
The steady #weday Twitter feed was also a way for those streaming the event at home or in their classrooms to join the conversation.
“So wish I could have gone to #WeDay. I feel so left out...next year I'm definitely volunteering!” ElleOhLa wrote.
“Man I wish I had gone to #weday. I went like two years ago and it was the most influencial (sic) and motivating experience,” wrote _Special T.
“#WEDAY. was the best day of my life!! WE ARE THE GENERATION THE WORLD HAS BEEN WAITING FOR!!” wrote GaBiSaNdLeR.
Spencer West, who spoke at We Day about how he moved forward after losing his legs when he was five, described the crowd in social networking terms.
“It’s like Facebook in 3D,” West said.
Chloé Fedio is in the yearlong internship program. She has previously worked at Global Edmonton, CBC Newsworld, the Ottawa Citizen and the Montreal Gazette.