Chicago's own superstar Jennifer Hudson was one of several celebrities in town for We Day Illinois at Allstate Arena on Thursday, while Chicago native and recent Academy Award winner Common was co-chair of the event. We Day rewarded students who have volunteered throughout the year as part of the We Act youth empowerment program.
PHOTOS: 'We Day Illinois'
"We've got great kids in Chicago, great kids in Illinois. We said they should have a chance to do this," Tom Wilson, president and CEO at Allstate, said. Thursday's We Day was the first in the state.
Hudson, Magic Johnson and Selena Gomez were some of the celebrities helping to motivate the youth to keep up the good deeds by turning inspiration into action.
"They are so empowering, and to know they're our future generation and they're doing so much work. That's why you come. To give back to them and showcase that by doing good this is what you get back," actors Raini and Rico Rodriguez said.
"There's nothing more inspiring than seeing a bunch of excited kids that are enthused about learning and growing up and becoming a part of our future," singer Tyrese Gibson said.
"To encourage them to keep on keeping on because it doesn't end here. This is really the start for a lot of these children," actor Martin Sheen said.
For Hudson, it was a chance to show a different side of the town she calls home.
"We want to acknowledge the positivity in them. And not so much the negative. Because we come from the South Side of Chicago, Englewood area, and it's never, ever, acknowledged- positivity. It's only the negative. So we want to highlight the positive," Hudson said.
"In the core of who they are, they want a better world. Now it's just about giving them the avenues and opportunities to seek out that better world, seek out the dreams and seek out the service," Common said.
PHOTOS: Celebrities attending 'We Day Illinois'