Microsoft YouthSpark Reporters join We Day cohost Munro Chambers from the hit TeenNick
TV show Degrassi.
Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger came to her school, Delaney learned
about We Day, an event that is part rock concert, part inspirational rally, and
only young people who have volunteered their time to community service projects
can earn tickets to attend. Free
the Children, an international charity and educational partner that empowers
youth to become agents of change, hosts We Day events all over the world.
"I was immediately inspired to get involved in community service projects," says
Delaney. She took part in "We Scare Hunger," a Halloween trick-or-treat event affiliated
with Free the Children that collected items for her area food bank. Combined with
three other school districts, the effort took in more than 10,000 pounds of food
in October 2012.
Delaney uses her favorite vintage camera to shoot photos of her friends and family.
service wasn't new to Delaney. It's been a family affair. She and her parents worked
on Earth Day cleanup events when she was younger. She helped out at the food bank
where her grandmother volunteered. And in her freshman and sophomore years, she
spent summer making lunches for students who didn't have access to the free and
reduced lunch programs provided during the school year.
It was a teacher who asked Delaney to apply for a spot as a YouthSpark Reporter, an opportunity Microsoft provides to
select young people to gain skills training in journalism and technology, and the
Reporters use Microsoft technology to report on their We Day experience. On her
application essay, she wrote about her plans to pursue a degree in commercial photography
and "nearly died" when she was chosen as one of the YouthSpark Reporters.
At Key Arena on We Day, she
got an all-access backstage experience, as well as an on-stage spot in front of
thousands of peers. She interviewed celebrities like Seattle Seahawks coach Pete
Carroll and singer Jennifer Hudson. "I was five feet away from her!" she exclaims
about seeing Hudson backstage.
Delaney, who plans to be a fashion photographer, spends time with her best friend
in Seattle, Washington.
took photos, video and live-tweeted throughout the event. "It made me realize the
effect social media has on kids my age," she says. "Kids who couldn't go were able
to keep with what was going on. It inspired a couple of people to get involved with
We Day this year." This year, We Day returns to Seattle, and California will also
join the We Day movement, with an event in Oakland.
The highlight of the day was interviewing Martin Luther King III. "That's something
I never thought would happen to me," she recalls. “It never would have happened
without YouthSpark. Still even thinking about it today, it takes my breath away;
it’s something I'm always going to carry with me. YouthSpark made me realize I can
do so much more with the talents that I have. I can benefit other people, not just
myself, with my journalistic skills.”
Delaney has seen how photography can be used for social good. "There's a program
that provides free portraits to people fighting cancer," she explains. "It's something
I'd like to get involved with. I want to help others and use the skills I have to
desire to use her photography to benefit others aligns perfectly with the goals
of We Act, the year-long educational initiative that leads up to We Day. She is
one of millions in the movement that provides young people with education and inspiration,
and then empowers them to make a positive impact in the world.
One of the subjects of Delaney's candid photos was the school’s head janitor. "She
was so funny, and had pretty blue eyes," she shared quietly. The woman recently
passed away, and Delaney's photo was one of the few the school had of her. "I printed
it and gave it to her family. The way her family was affected by it, you could tell
it meant a lot to them," Delaney says.
Being part of YouthSpark and We Day encouraged Brown to tackle tasks she didn’t
think were possible, like interviewing inspirational figures and speaking on stage
in front of thousands. It pushed her to look at the bigger picture.
"I guess you could say that YouthSpark inspired me to be involved with something
greater and take myself farther than just Washington state."