Monday, October 24, 2016
  • Friday, Apr. 8, 2016
Theron, Rogen inspire schoolkids at first California WE Day
Charlize Theron speaks at WE Day California at the Forum on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
  • INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP)
  • --

Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were among the stars bringing thousands of Los Angeles-area school kids to their feet Thursday at California's inaugural WE Day celebration.

The educational event drew 16,000 local students to the Forum in Inglewood, California, for a day of inspirational speeches and celebrity appearances. Students earned admission to the WE Day gathering by participating in yearlong community service projects with their schools.

Theron challenged the young audience to become the generation that ends AIDS. Rogen shared how a lack of resources for Alzheimer's disease inspired him, a self-described "lazy man-child," to start his own charitable organization. Zooey Deschanel and the cast of TV's "New Girl" encouraged the students to participate in a group hug.

Gomez opened the show by performing "Kill Em With Kindness." Lovato roused the crowd with her new song, "Stone Cold." Henry Winkler, Martin Sheen, Joe Jonas, Hollywood couple Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder, Tyrese Gibson, Amandla Stenberg, Kermit the Frog and singer Big Sean were among other entertainers addressing the students, who represented 550 California schools.

Several student activists were also recognized during the program for creating their own charities or advocating for overcoming gender stereotypes and physical challenges. Among them were teenage skiers Corrine Hindes and Katrine Kirsebom, who started an organization that donates hats and gloves from ski resorts' lost and found boxes to homeless people in Northern California.

Kids at WE Day California heard about cultural appropriation, the plight of disappearing bees, the global need for clean water and how to become more eco-friendly. Fourteen WE Day events are being held across the United States, Canada and the U.K. The organization also provides curricula and guidance to schools to identify needs in their neighborhoods and ways to get involved.

Highlights from the program will air as a TV special August 28 on ABC.