UNICEF Canada and dozens of Canadian celebrities shine spotlight on challenges facing youth in Canada

A recent UNICEF report comparing the well-being of children in the richest countries around the world placed Canada an alarming 25th among the 41 countries measured. These rankings haven’t improved in more than a decade, which has UNICEF Canada partnering with top Canadian celebrities to do something about it.

Today, UNICEF Canada launches a new ad campaign to highlight “One Youth” – a groundbreaking initiative with the mission to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in by 2030. The campaign brings together dozens of Canadian celebrities to have a chat with Canada. With the words, "Canada, We Need to Talk," Canadian celebrities are starting the conversation about kids living in poverty, teen suicide rates, bullying and other subjects where Canada desperately needs to improve. The campaign drives to OneYouthCanada.ca, and encourages Canadians to take action – with a set goal of achieving #8MillionActions (one for every Canadian youth) by World Children’s Day on November 20, 2018, and provides dozens of ideas for how all Canadians can get involved.

“Every child in Canada has the right to the best possible opportunities and outcomes. Right now, that’s not what many of them are getting,” said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. “Our society has grown more unequal and children and youth are paying the price. But Canada has what it takes to do better.”

The campaign features more than twenty Canadian celebrities including actors Keanu Reeves, Elisha Cuthbert, Cobie Smulders, Eugene Levy, Jay Baruchel, Patrick Adams, Jason Priestley, Neve Campbell, Xavier Dolan, Marc-André Grondin, Eric McCormack and Matthew Santoro; musical artists Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Alessia Cara, Stephen Voyce and Ian Campeau; TV host Alex Trebek; tennis star Eugenie Bouchard; comedian Sugar Sammy; chef Antonio Park; film director Denis Villeneuve; and retired Canadian Women’s Soccer Team goalie Karina LeBlanc – all who donated their time and energy to UNICEF Canada’s One Youth.


McCann Worldgroup Canada, and FH Studio worked pro bono on the project to enlist Canadian celebrities to the cause. “We’d like to thank McCann and FH studios for their great contribution to this campaign,” said Morley. “By bringing together dozens of Canadian celebrities to speak up on key issues affecting youth well-being, we hope more Canadians will feel the urge to act, and governments will continue their momentum to create great conditions for growing up.”

UNICEF Canada’s One Youth is working with partners and youth to build the new gold standard for measuring children’s well-being customized to the Canadian experience, and developing and testing new solutions to the challenges they face. It is calling on Canadians to take action and to aim higher for children and youth. This is one of the organization’s first campaigns highlighting issues right here at home.

“The time has come to leave the status quo behind and speak up for and with kids across the country,” said Morley. “By bringing together dozens of Canadian celebrities to speak up on key issues affecting youth, we hope more Canadians will feel the urge to act, and governments will continue their momentum to create great conditions for growing up.”

One Youth is currently funded in partnership with the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Lawson Foundation and Intact Foundation.

UNICEF Key Findings

  • Canada is ranked 32nd out of 41 countries in children who are living at or below the poverty level. In fact, one in five Canadian children live at or below the poverty level; for perspective, children in Korea, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany all fare better on this measure than children in Canada do.
  • Canada comes in almost dead last in ensuring reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food for children, at 37th out of 41 countries. In fact, one in six Canadian children live with some level of food insecurity every day.
  • Canada places 31st in teen suicide, even higher than the United States.
  • Canada is ranked 29th in unhealthy weight. In fact, one in four Canadian teens is overweight or obese, similar to the results in the United States.
  • Although we consider ourselves a peaceful and tolerant nation, Canada has the 5th-highest rate of bullying among the measured countries in the study.

For more, visit One Youth Canada. 

The Sweet Caroline Foundation Launches Allergy Awareness Pilot with Food Allergy Canada

The Sweet Caroline Foundation in collaboration with Food Allergy Canada has announced the launch of a pilot project called Allergy Awareness for Schools. This initiative includes a powerful video called “Caroline’s Story,” in which the Lorette family shares the story of their 14-year-old daughter Caroline, who passed away from an anaphylactic reaction to dairy in 2014. The video and program educate on the importance of using epinephrine as a first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.

For more information about the project, visit Food Allergy Canada to read the news release.

imTeen Wins International Award

WeUsThem has received an international W3 award for creative excellence in the design of the imTEEN app. imTEEN empowers youth to track and take care of their mental health on a daily basis.

In partnership with Telus Health, The Sandbox Project and Dr. Stan Kutcher, WeUsThem designed a comprehensive, user-friendly app. With imTEEN, teens can monitor signs and symptoms of mental illness (with physical illnesses to come shortly).

"imTEEN is an integral part of an electronic youth mental health care solution that helps young people get well and stay well, linking them with their care providers for best evidence available care. This solution has been designed for use in primary care settings to help enhance rapid access to effective mental health care for young people and their families,” said Dr. Stan Kutcher. “Recent research findings have demonstrated that it is ready for application in those community settings interested in applying innovative solutions to improve mental health care of young people.”

The app is connected to the Telus Electronic Health Record allowing for live updates to flow through to the user’s doctor. Users can send information on medications, assessments and activities they undertake directly to healthcare providers. This information is used for early intervention or continuing care and opens up communication between the user, their healthcare provider and loved ones.

“The Sandbox Project’s network of child and youth health professionals tell us that to address the challenges of access to youth mental health services, what we really need is creative innovation by experts, youth, and the public and private sectors working together,” said Christine Hampson, Ph.D., President & CEO of The Sandbox Project. “We’re honoured to see the fruits of this collaboration recognized through the W3 Award.”

Through market research and extensive healthcare marketing experience, WeUsThem created an app that appeals to youth and opens up communication. With a professional and engaging presentation, the app changes the way youth communicate symptoms and progress with healthcare providers.

“We are so proud to have been a part of creating imTEEN. Working toward a healthier society is a tremendous task, but working as a collective across industries will make great headway.”, says Ashwin Kutty, CEO of WeUsThem. “Receiving this award is both an accomplishment for us and the progression toward making mental healthcare accessible for all.”

Source: WeUsThem

imTeen and the Sandbox Youth Mental Heath Initiative are made possible by a group of supporters working to make a difference in the lives of Canada's young people: 

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The Citrine Foundation of Canada