Those who think teens can't make a difference should have visited the Langley Events Centre on Tuesday. Hundreds of youth filled bleachers and floor seats in brightly coloured T-shirts to create the largest World Food Day event in the country.
Since 1981, Oct. 16 has marked World Food Day and this year students from seven of Langley's eight secondary schools participated in day-long discussions about food, world hunger, and poverty.
In addition to the four main speakers, time was set aside for students to eat their provided bag lunches, take in a number of exhibits, and share their thoughts and feelings about the world-wide issues and how teens can make changes.
World Food Day Canada was organized by the Food For Famine Society and its founder Maria Martini has been working full time since the first week of January to organize Tuesday's event at the LEC.
"I've engaged Kwantlen [Polytechnic] University students and high school students, so it has been a team effort," Martini said.
Danica Scott is one of those Kwantlen students.
"I did an assignment on them [World Food Day]," she said. "And I was hooked."
The majority of the R.E. Mountain student body attended, thanks mainly to logistics - the school is located right next door to the events centre.
"I'm impressed," commented Mike Palichuk, vice principal at R.E. Mountain. "I'd say we have more than 90 per cent of the student body here."
"They were able to walk over," Martini said.
Other local schools had student leaders attend.
A minimum of 1,500 people, the majority of whom were high school students, listened to speakers including Mark Moore, co-founder and CEO of MANA Nutrition, World Vision Canada executive vice president Michael Messenger, Hope International Development Agency international president David McKenzie, and Daniel German, president and founder of Breakfast Clubs of Canada.
Despite the occasional yawn, the majority of youth were focused on the speakers and the information put forth.
The focal message of the day is making a difference in the world, Martini said.
"We're asking them [participants] by way of being kind to your neighbour, volunteer in your community, be passionate. find your passion by helping others not only here in your community but also around the world," Martini said.
Numerous displays focused on this aspect of passion. One had the headline, "Why Care?"
"We asked the students the question 'Why care?'" said Emely Perea, a student at Lord Tweedmuir. "We were asking them if they care if other people don't have priviledges that you do."
World Vision Canada board member and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender connected the Food For Famine Society with World Vision.
"That allowed us to raise the funds, and then we purchased this ready-to-use therapeutic food from Mark Moore who is here presenting about what that food does and the results of that," Martini said.
. More at www.langleyadvance.com.