ROSEMONT, Ill. (WLS) -- Nearly 15,000 students and educators from more than 500 schools in Illinois packed Allstate Arena Wednesday for WE Day.
We Day celebrates young people who are taking action on pressing social issues and takes place in cities across the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. The event features a wide variety of speakers and performers.
"It is so amazing. It is so much fun," said April Doubleday, who is a middle school student from Roscoe, outside of Rockford.
Students worked hard to get their tickets here by volunteering in their communities. The event celebrates their service and inspires them to keep working to make the world a better place for everyone.
"We need places for young people to be celebrated for doing good. We need to show them one of the coolest things they can do is give back to their communities. That's what WE Day is all about, inspiring and celebrating that action," said Calvin Mitchell, a supervising producer for WE Day.
Taylor Smith, a student from Excel Academy of Englewood, said this was her first WE Day.
She speaks out against gun violence in her community.
"You can always give back, especially for the younger generation you can always show them what more you can do, instead of picking up a gun, you can pick up a book," Smith said.
Ariana Perez, a student at Walter Payton College Prep, is a WE Day veteran. This year she was honored for her community work.
"I felt like I was always meant to become a leader in some way, shape or form," she said.
NBA Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of a list celebrity speakers. He's the founder of the Skyhook Foundation. The foundation provides provides STEM opportunities for students in underserved communities.
He encouraged the students to keep striving for greatness.
"Community is essential to success. Education is key to having something to offer to your community," said Abdul-Jabbar.
WE Day Illinois: 15K students celebrating giving back