iN VIDEO: Kamloops teens speak to nearly 20,000 at Vancouver WE Day | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Kamloops teens speak to nearly 20,000 at Vancouver WE Day

Kara Branchflower and Matthew Ciardullo are both students at NorKam Senior Secondary School and recently spoke to nearly 20,000 people at Vancouver WE Day.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Matthew Ciardullo
November 25, 2019 - 2:20 PM

Two Kamloops teenagers got a chance to speak in front of nearly 20,0000 people at the WE Day event in Vancouver last week.

WE Day is an annual celebration of youth who are working towards making the world a better place and features famous artists, performers and activists. The Nov. 19 event in Vancouver was live-streamed across the country and was one of many that occur throughout North America and the U.K.

Matthew Ciardullo is a grade 12 student at NorKam Secondary and has been heavily involved in volunteering since he started high school. He is one of the founding members of the Kiwanis Key Club at NorKam, he is a member of the school’s Saints Club, and he is also involved with Interact, a program run through the Rotary Club. All of those clubs focus on volunteer work and organize projects to help make a positive impact on the local and global community.

Ciardullo and some classmates took a vow of silence in an effort to bring awareness to those who can't share their voices, such as people in situations like human trafficking and slavery. At the WE Day event in Vancouver, he was asked to go on stage alongside classmate Kara Branchflower to speak about their vow of silence.

“It wasn’t that long but it was very impactful for me... I felt like nothing could bring me down. Right before, I slowed my heartbeat down with slow breathing before we went up... I did not want it to end,” Ciardullo says. “As the words were coming out of my mouth and I saw the time running down, I just didn’t want it to end.”

Credit: SUBMITTED / Matthew Ciardullo

Ciardullo invited his mom and sister to attend the WE Day celebration. The family has attended before, and were pleasantly surprised to have seats within the first few rows. Both had no idea that Ciardullo was going to take the stage.

“We didn’t know he was going up, we just knew we had good seats… this was a surprise to us. When he was on stage, I barely even heard what he said I was just so blown away he was standing up there. I recorded it, and I had to watch it afterwards,” says mother Chandra Ciardullo.

Although Ciardullo was eager to share his message about the vow of silence, the biggest message he was trying to get across was to his little sister, Ashley. Although she lives in Kelowna, the two are very close and are both active in volunteering and projects to make the world a better place.

“My sister just thought I went to the bathroom or something, and then she saw me on stage. It meant the world to me that my sister could see me. To me, I was trying to get across to her that anything is possible and that’s what I’ve always tried to get across to her and to never stop doing what she’s doing. Because she’s getting into the most amazing lifestyle and she’s making the most amazing choices for her. I’m so proud of her,”  Ciardullo says.

Matthew and Ashley Ciardullo live in different cities but remain very close, and each work on various volunteer projects in their respective communities.
Matthew and Ashley Ciardullo live in different cities but remain very close, and each work on various volunteer projects in their respective communities.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Matthew Ciardullo

Ciardullo’s 14-year-old sister was recently featured on an episode of Dragon’s Den, where she and three high school students asked for $30,000 for 25 per cent of their plastic recycling organization. Ashley is one of the founders of Operation Take Two, which sees all of the plastic from Rutland Senior Secondary crushed into pellets and formed into new products. The operation takes place in a 40-foot shipping container in the school's courtyard and Ciardullo hopes to one day expand his sister’s project to schools in Kamloops.

Ciardullo is set to graduate from high school this year and is trying to figure out which university and program is best suited for him. Although he only started playing rugby two years ago, he is the captain of his school team and has played for the Kamloops team, Okanagan team and B.C. team. He has gotten through the first round for the Loran scholarship and has applied to plenty of other grants and scholarships to send him to universities like UBC and Trent.

He has spent the last two years working alongside other youth as part of the RCMP Youth Advisory Committee in Kamloops and has recently been accepted to be a part of the national group.

“Over the summer I sent in an application for the national advisory committee, and I actually sent it in on the due date, like five minutes before the application was due, I just waited that long but I shouldn’t have, though,” Ciardullo says. “I got word two weeks later that I was accepted for it, so that's amazing, it's 150 people across Canada who all get to pool their ideas and thoughts on what they think the RCMP can do better.”

His mother looks forward to the work that her children will continue to do.

"You raise your kids to be the best people they can be and set good examples and good core values and help guide them in the right direction... the rest is up to them," Chandra says. "They encourage each other to be the best human beings they can be and are each other’s biggest fans. What more can a mother ask for?"

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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