Our children represent the next generation of trailblazers who will assume the mantle of responsibility for our society of tomorrow. We all have an obligation to protect and nurture our future leaders to ensure they have the confidence to lift up their voices and share their thoughts and opinions.
Disconcertingly, many of our youth do not experience a positive childhood to enable this confidence. One in three Canadians report experiencing abuse before the age of 15, one in five children lives in poverty and, tragically, suicide is now the leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14 – and the global health emergency has only exacerbated this already-dire situation. In light of this, children around the world, including the eight million children who call Canada their home, desperately need a voice to express their beliefs and ideas. That’s why the theme of this year’s National Child Day is appropriate: Children should be #SeenAndHeard. And it is incumbent upon us as citizens to ensure that our future changemakers are, indeed, both seen and heard.
Investing in our children to propel our future
Over the course of the past four years, TELUS has had the privilege of partnering with Children First Canada, contributing nearly a quarter of a million dollars to help provide a strong, effective and independent voice for all of Canada’s children. Together, we are supporting training and mentorship programs for young Canadians with the mission to make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.
Photos: Celebrating National Child Day at TELUS Harbour in Toronto in 2018 (above) and with members of our Board and senior leaders in Ottawa in 2019 (below).
Supporting our youth, today and well beyond
Like Children First Canada, our TELUS team is deeply committed to empowering children to realize their full potential – and to living our social purpose to leverage our world-leading technology to create remarkable human and social outcomes. In this regard, we have pioneered a number of life-changing programs, such as our Connecting for Good initiatives, to help vulnerable Canadians and ensure underserved youth have access to essential technology, as well as educational and health opportunities.
By way of example, TELUS Internet for Good offers low-income families access to low-cost, high-speed internet to ensure they can succeed in our digital society; TELUS Mobility for Good provides free smartphones and data plans to youth aging out of foster care, enabling them to stay connected to the people and resources that matter most; and TELUS Health for Good helps reconnect thousands of marginalized youth living on the streets with our public health care system, ensuring that disadvantaged individuals receive access to high-quality care.
Importantly, we accelerated many of our programs to help children during the pandemic, including: expanding Internet for Good to school-aged children in B.C. and Alberta; offering additional TELUS Wise resources to promote online safety; expanding our Mobility for Good offering nationally in partnership with the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada; and providing tablets with connectivity and data plans to school boards in B.C., Alberta and Quebec.
Building on our longstanding history of giving back, TELUS donated an unprecedented $120 million to help give vulnerable youth a friendlier future in our challenging world through the launch of the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation (TFFF). The foundation provides grants to national, provincial and grassroots charities that empower at-risk young Canadians with better support and access to health and educational opportunities, as well as programs to stay safe online.
For example, the Breakfast Club of Canada, which typically feeds 250,000 children daily through its school programs, is ensuring that children still receive access to healthy food – despite pandemic-related changes to in-class learning. Through a grant of $100,000 from the TFFF, food hampers, pre-made meals and grocery gift cards are being distributed to families struggling with food insecurity. Together, we are helping to ensure that children in need have access to nutritious meals and creating healthier communities across Canada.
Helping children lift up their voices
As we celebrate National Child Day, let us all be reminded of the importance of ensuring that every child is truly empowered to have a voice – particularly amid a global pandemic. Together, we are navigating very uncertain times. It is more important now than ever before that every child on the planet is both #SeenAndHeard to survive and thrive.