Show compassion. Take action.

That was the message delivered to 16,000 roaring students Tuesday during the We Day youth-empowerment event at General Motors Place in Vancouver.

Dubbed "The Day We Change the World," the event featured several high-profile speakers, musicians and activists - all of whom implored students to combat local and global challenges.

Appearing on stage to raucous applause, the Dalai Lama stressed that achieving world peace must start with inner peace.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader called on students to develop an "inner beauty" by having a compassionate heart.

We Day is an initiative of Free the Children, an organization that has more than one million youth members involved in education and development programs worldwide.

Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger told the crowd that Canadian families have helped build dozens of schools and water projects in developing countries around the world.

"Massive change is possible," he said.

Actress Mia Farrow challenged students to "do the things you think you cannot do" and to "do all the good you can by all the means available."

"I think our own feelings of helplessness are our worst enemy. We are not helpless,"she said. "Keep pushing, keep hollering, keep shouting and this mighty wave will become the tide that can shape the course of history."

Singers Jason Mraz and Sarah McLachlan also performed.

Among those in attendance Tuesday was seven-year-old Maple Ridge student Avery Johnson, who has already learned a lot about what it means to give.

She has raised thousands of dollars over the past year and a half, helping those in need on the other side of the world.

"I feel that other kids should have a good life like us," she told CTV News.

Avery started raising money for Free the Children when she was six. She and her mother, Andrea Johnson, came across a magazine article that outlined "seven steps to change the world."

"It's a cheat sheet for activism, and I thought, 'Perfect, this is right up Avery's alley,'" her mother said. "It's a point-by-point how to go about doing these things. I gave it to her and she took off from there."

First, Avery got out a map to find the places she'd heard might need some help.

Next, she formed her Minga team. Minga is an Ecuadoran word for coming together for the common good.

"It means everybody has come to help. And to raise money for a good cause," Avery said.

She organized used-book and bake sales and raised thousands of dollars - money that has gone to help build water wells in Kenya and other causes.

On her last birthday, she went even further. Instead of asking for gifts, she asked for money that she then donated to Free the Children.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger and files from The Canadian Press.