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MONTREAL, JANUARY 27 , 2010-   Internationally renowned speaker and acclaimed children’s rights activist Kimmie Weeks, the founder of Youth Action International (YAI),  spoke  to a crowd of more than 200 students at  Marymount Academy  in N.D.G. last week.

The McGill University Chapter of YAI brought  Mr.  Weeks to Montreal to share his story of survival during the Liberian Civil War, as well as his present day work  inspiring young people around the globe to make changes for a better world. Students from Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard, James Lyng High School in Ville Émard, Trafalgar School for Girls and St. George’s School of Montreal joined Secondary IV and V students from Marymount’s acclaimed International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP). The aim of the IBMYP  is to help students relate the content of the classroom to the realities of the world outside by combining knowledge, experience and critical observation.

Mr. Weeks   shared his personal life with his audience.   “This moving, thought provoking and extremely important event, will serve as an inspiration for many young people - our future leaders - who will be touched by the words of Kimmie Weeks, ” stated McGill YAI president Lili Liang.
Mr. Weeks has worked to alleviate poverty and human suffering in Africa and around the world since he was a child. Born in Liberia  in 1981, he came face to face with civil war, human suffering, and death at the age of nine. Over the years he has formed partnerships and led organizations that have provided education to thousands of students in West Africa, lobbied the disarmament of over 20,000 child soldiers, and provided health care and recreation supplies to children. In 1998, he investigated and released a groundbreaking report on the Liberian government’s involvement in the training of child soldiers. As a result, former Liberian President Charles Taylor made several attempts to assassinate him until he fled the country and was granted political asylum in the United States.  Since the war ended three years ago, he has returned there regularly and plans to run for President in 2017 when he turns the mandatory 35 years of age.
Mr. Weeks showed a moving slide show which graphically illustrated the stories about starvation and the plight of a country which was terrorized by a rebel army and its child soldiers. “I have seen parents watch their children die of hunger and extreme disease and there was nothing they could do about it,” he said. “UNICEF estimates that every day 30,000 children will die from preventable causes. Malaria kills two million children a year. This can be prevented by a mosquito net which costs $10.”
When the war started, Mr. Weeks said he and his mother were evicted from their home and forced to leave all of their possessions. While they were in a displaced person camp he was presumed dead  and dumped on a pile of dead bodies. When his mother learned that he had been put there she went on a frantic search, found him barely alive and nursed him back to health.”

YAI ( is an established non-profit, entirely youth-run organization originally founded by Mr. Weeks in  2002 at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Since its creation, YAI has expanded across the United States and to Canada. It works not only on providing basic aid to post-war countries to alleviate the suffering of children, but also on breaking the cycles of poverty and violence through programs such as child soldier rehabilitation programs, micro-loan programs, and vocational training programs. Most of all, Youth Action focuses its efforts on six post-war countries, namely: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. The ultimate goal is to help these children regain their lost childhoods.



Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213