Waldorf One World Day, in short WOW-Day, is a day shaped by student commitment. The idea is simple: once a year, committed people collect donations in many different ways, giving them to Waldorf institutions throughout the world. These institutions provide children with a warmhearted place to learn and grow – no matter how harsh their social reality might be.
In Germany, Finland or the Netherlands we are in a good position. The state provides a large part of the costs needed to run an independent school. Thus only a small part has to be co-financed by the parents through school fees. However, in Poland, Armenia or South Africa, for example, many Waldorf schools have to get by with little or no state funding. To ask for higher tuition fees from the parents is unthinkable in many of these countries. Many parents can raise the money only with great efforts, if at all. Nevertheless, they would like their children to receive a Waldorf education for them to grow up healthily.
It is a Waldorf principle not to turn down a child for financial reasons. This was a main concern of Emil Molt when he founded the first Waldorf School together with Rudolf Steiner in 1919. He saw free educations as the answer to the then prevailing circumstances. Free for everyone, no matter what the financial situation of the family was. And also free from economic interests and free from the demands of the labor market – an education guided only by the needs of the child itself and by the questions the child brings with her.
In order to truly live this ideal and to allow children everywhere in this world to attend school, it is important to remind us of this essential impulse by reaching out to one another beyond national borders – from one continent to another, from one human being to another.
Since 1994, WOW-Day encourages people around the world to support each other. The idea first came up in a meeting of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf (ECSWE): Astrid Bjönness, former Representative of Norway, talked about "Operasjon Dagswerk", a single day campaign, during which Norwegian high school students raised money for charity. Inspired by the Norwegian idea the WOW-Day campaign developed for Waldorf Schools. As a cooperation partner in Germany, the German Federation of Waldorf schools supports WOW-Day since 2009. Initially the fundraising campaign took place on a pre-specified date. Over the years, the period has been extended, allowing each institution to organise their own fundraising day on a suitable date between 29 September and 29 November. However, it is also possible to choose any other day during the year.
In the past 25 years, WOW-Day has established itself as a fixed event in the Waldorf school movement and gains new and original fundraising ideas every year. For the participants WOW-Day is a special experience. They set an example for a better world and learn that they can help shape society and social circumstances.