At the age of 12, Craig and his brother Marc decided they wanted to make a difference. Fast forward to 2018, and the co-founders of the WE organisation have touched the lives of millions, inspiring young people across the globe to think bigger than themselves. Inspiring, empowering, leading, teamwork - these aren't just skills for Craig Kielburger, they are the entire philosophy the WE organisation stands for.
So what inspires the man who inspires everyone else? We sat down with Craig, our Young Leaders of Tomorrow category judge for six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative, to discover just that…
How did you first start WE?
My brother Marc and I co-founded the WE organization when I was 12 years old. We knew we wanted to help make a difference, but we didn’t know how to go about it. I asked my Grade 7 class, and twelve 12-year-olds came together with a goal to help, but still without a clear plan of how to do so. But we worked hard, approached everything with an entrepreneurial spirit, and surrounded ourselves with like-minded people with the same passions in life.
What challenges as a young person did you have to overcome when first starting the organization?
Marc and I were very fortunate to have parents who supported our ideas to help make a difference around the globe, but we sometimes lacked the knowledge and skillset; we only knew we wanted to help. We called other charities and their advice was to send money.
Donations were a step in the right direction, but we felt people also needed to know how to transform their passions for change into action. That idea became the foundation of our mission to “make doing good, doable.” - Craig Kielburger
Why do you feel so passionately about young people, and their ability to create a global movement towards positive change?
Now more than ever, the world needs more good. We need a generation of people who will empower each other to become a force for change; one that shares in the belief that every person, every day, can better the world. Through their actions, young people today have shown an understanding that together, they can harness ideas, energy and passion to become unstoppable. We’ve seen this ability to dream big in our communities and in our schools, and it’s this capacity for care and compassion that will help shape these young leaders.
How have you seen young people change and shape laws that have a positive impact on other people’s lives?
The current movement in the U.S. to end school violence has seen a number of remarkable young people come together in support of such an important cause. Together, they have bravely initiated a chain of events that has inspired and empowered individuals from across the country to have new conversations surrounding the future and who we want to be as a global community.
What attracted you to being involved with six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative?
Six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative closely mirrors the core values of WE and our mission to elevate youth who are making a difference in their local and global communities in the name of social change. Like six-two, WE provides a platform to recognize these outstanding efforts to share in their successes and their work.
Why do you think initiatives like this, that celebrate young people, are so important?
Acknowledging youth for their contributions to social change raises awareness towards those actions and causes.
"In spreading that belief in the power of change, we hope to galvanize and inspire others to explore their own passions in life, and find the causes they’re willing to champion. All it takes is one simple action to create a tidal wave of good." - Craig Kielburger
What credentials were you looking for in the nominees you selected?
Thousands of inspired youth across North America participate in our WE Schools service learning programs, but the five young change-makers I’ve nominated have gone above and beyond to affect change both at home and beyond. They’ve shown a dedication and commitment that sets them apart, while demonstrating the ability to lead and inspire others.
To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, head here.