ABC’s Annual ‘WE Day Special’ Celebrates the Power of WE

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Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 2019 WE Day broadcast on ABC.

On Friday, August 9, ABC presents its annual WE Day Special broadcast, where entertainment’s biggest names — including Chance the Rapper, Selena Gomez, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Portman, Bill Nye, Meghan Trainor, Joe Jonas and Lilly Singh — gather to celebrate young people who are making positive impacts in local and global causes.

The hour-long special is part of a worldwide school-based movement that encourages young people to become engaged in philanthropic endeavors.

“Our mission is to make doing good doable,” explains WE cofounder Craig Kielburger, who started the organization almost 25 years ago when he was 12 years old. “When you look at the world today, there’s a lot of problems, and we all know that, but where do you start? Our organization is meant to make it easy for kids and families to get involved.”

The WE curriculum is used by over 4 million students in more than 16,000 school groups worldwide and leads to more than 10 million hours of volunteerism per year. “By doing this service, students actually earn their ticket to come to WE Day,” explains Kielburger. “WE Day is the reward.”

Over 200,000 young people earn this opportunity and attend a WE Day celebration in one of 20 cities around the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. WE Day California, the source of this year’s broadcast, was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and featured inspiring stories about young people, as well as celebrity-packed performances and speeches. Kielburger also teases that Martin Sheen and Henry Winkler appear in the special’s hilarious opening skit.

“Every kid in the audience has to earn their way to WE Day, but in the same way, every celebrity has to earn their way to be onstage, too,” Kielburger says. Each celebrity speaks about a cause near and dear to him or her: Selena Gomez shares her passion for mental health awareness, Chance the Rapper talks about the importance of education in America, Natalie Portman talks about education worldwide, Meghan Trainor shares her battle with body image, Lilly Singh talks about her campaign #GirlLove — which combats girl-on-girl bullying — and Bill Nye presents a homily about the environment.

The family-friendly special is a way to expand the empowering message of the WE movement beyond the classroom. “We want to make sure the people know how they can get involved. All of the resources we show are free, and any school can have them,” explains Kielburger. “The other reason that we’re televising this is actually an invitation and a call to action to the audience to participate. Our incredible sponsors The Allstate Foundation, Walgreens and Microsoft have not only sponsored the TV broadcast, but they’ve put a bit of a challenge out. The challenge is that if people will go to and basically click a button, our sponsors will actually support more schools.”

WE Day Special, Friday, August 9, 8/7c, ABC