TORONTO, 25 April 2018 – UNICEF Canada, through its One Youth initiative, is pleased to partner with the Region of Waterloo, Cities of Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo and Townships of Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot and North Dumfries, on the Smart Cities Challenge application to Infrastructure Canada. The Region of Waterloo has brought together the community around one of Canada’s greatest challenges: improving the lives of our children and youth. This challenge is shared by all communities across the country. The learnings from Waterloo Region will be shared with other communities to help everyone in their efforts to achieve better, fairer outcomes for Canada’s young people.
The most recent UNICEF Report Card found that Canada ranks 25th out of 41 rich countries in child and youth well-being. Our country hasn’t improved its ranking in over a decade. One in five Canadian children lives in poverty. One in four is obese. One in seven is regularly bullied. The child homicide rate is one of the highest among wealthy nations. All levels of government in Canada are taking important steps to address this challenge. Waterloo Region is bringing together new partners who can each play a role. The world-class tech sector in Waterloo will devote its creativity and resources to the challenge. Children and youth themselves will also play a critical role.
“At UNICEF Canada, we believe every child in Canada has the right to the best possible opportunities, and the right to participate in creating them. We applaud the Government of Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge to take complex problems head-on, and the bold vision of Waterloo Region to make life better for its youngest citizens. UNICEF Canada’s One Youth was born out of a shared goal to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up,” said Lisa Wolff, UNICEF Canada’s Director of Policy and Research.
UNICEF Canada will work with the Waterloo Region to develop a real-time child and youth well-being dashboard that will allow communities to measure child and youth wellbeing. UNICEF Canada is creating the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being with collaborators across the country, including children and youth. The indicators are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious agenda for 2030 embraced by Canada and its international peers. The Waterloo Region Smart City Challenge aims to become the benchmark community in Canada for child and youth wellbeing. Powered by a connected-community framework, youth engagement and adaptive, data-driven programs we will improve early child development, child and youth mental health and high school graduation rates.