Three Local Young Women to Speak at WE Believe in St. John

Representing the local area at the first-ever WE Believe youth leadership presentation in New Brunswick are (left to right) Skyla Libby, Brianna Jack, and Cassidy Carr. The three will be speaking in front of an audience of more than 7,600 about their respective projects at the May 17th event. (Photo courtesy of Billie Jo Jack)

By Lura Jackson

 

The first WE Believe event to be held in New Brunswick will be showcasing three young women from the local area. Cassidy Carr of Calais, Brianna Jack of Nackawic, N.B., and Skyla Libby from Jonesport will each be speaking about the volunteering projects they are engaged in at the May 17th event, which will be attended by 7,600 students and teachers.

WE Believe events are held internationally with a focus on empowering youth to believe in themselves and the impact they can have on their communities. Last year, more than 200,000 youths from around the world attended WE Believe in locations around the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean. In Canada, events have been held in Toronto, Halifax, and Vancouver; this is the first year it will be held in St. John.

This isn’t the first time Brianna has been to WE Believe as she has previously traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia to attend the youth leadership presentation on two separate occasions. In those cases, however, she was a spectator. “It’s very exciting to be speaking at WE Believe,” Brianna said. “I never thought I’d be speaking in front of 7,600 people. I’m glad I’m getting the chance to inspire other kids my age.”

Brianna, 14, was invited to speak at the event because of her role in promoting youth literacy in both Maine and New Brunswick. When she was 9 and living in Baileyville, she started Maine Books for Maine Kids, and, more recently, she started Brianna’s Bookworms in Canada. Between the two organizations, she has donated 8,088 books thus far.

As part of being invited to speak at WE Believe, Brianna was asked to bring 1,000 books for all the 5th graders that will be present at the event. Donations are now being accepted to help her meet that goal. To make a donation, mail checks addressed to Maine Books for Maine Kids to P.O. Box 1002, Baileyville, ME 04694.

In Cassie’s case, she will be speaking about her work collecting donations of pillows and blankets for the Perfect Pillow Project. Now 13, Cassie has been steadily organizing the project over the past few years. “The Perfect Pillow Project is an organization that donates new pillows and blankets to people all around the world that are facing tragedies and hard times,” Cassie explains. “With the Perfect Pillow Project, people who have little or even nothing can have something to call their own.” Since its inception, the project has made donations to various local causes, including the Red Cross, the Let’s All Have a Merrier Christmas Foundation, Stuff the Bus, the Next Step Domestic Violence Shelter. This year, the project will also be contributing to a missionary effort in the Dominican Republic where the blankets will be donated to a maternity ward at a hospital, Cassie shares. 

“I feel honored to be invited to speak at the WE conference,” Cassie said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for me to share my project and hopefully inspire other youth to become involved in their communities and volunteerism.”

The third young woman invited to speak at the conference is 14-year old Skyla. Skyla will be speaking about her experiences volunteering for more than 30 organizations around the state as part of her commitment to The Crown CARES over the past seven years. In 2015, she created her own anti-bullying organization, Keys of Change. The project involves selling keychains packaged with the anti-bullying message of the organization. The profits are all given to The Crown CARES to distribute bullying prevention materials to schools. Most recently, she has incorporated bracelets into the project, naming them Courage Cords. 

“I am beyond excited for this opportunity,” Skyla said. “Having the chance to speak about my personal project and the importance of giving back to our communities is an experience I only dreamed I’d get to be involved with.”

The importance of youth volunteering is one of the key facets of WE Believe, and each of the young women will be speaking on it. “Youth volunteering is important because it teaches people at a young age that putting others before yourself is one of the most beneficial leadership skills you can learn,” Skyla said. “You just never know how one random act of kindness could change someone’s day or life. The time we give back to others willingly is a valuable gift and we shouldn’t waste it.”