Media Release: World's Largest Sandbox 2016

The World's Largest Sandbox: Playtime with purpose

Helping shape the future of child and youth health in Canada

OTTAWA, June 8, 2016 - Canada’s leaders were in the sandbox today to help build a healthier generation of Canadians. To raise awareness about The Sandbox Project, Parliamentarians, media personalities, not-for-profit and industry professionals joined 70 local schoolchildren and families to build sand sculptures in the Fifth Annual World’s Largest Sandbox on Ottawa’s Sparks Street. 

The Sandbox Project puts the health and wellbeing of Canada’s children and youth at the forefront, and for urgent reason.  Currently, Canada faces an unprecedented future in which Canadian children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.  In 2013, UNICEF research ranked Canada as 17th out of 29 of the world’s wealthiest countries when it comes to the overall wellbeing of its children.  UNICEF’s most recent Report Card, Fairness for Children: Canada’s Challenge, revealed that when it comes to the gap between Canada’s poorest and those in the middle, Canada ranks 26 of out 35 of the world’s richest nations.  In other words, too many Canadian kids and youth are unhappy and unhealthy. 

To counteract this alarming trend, The Sandbox Project is working hard, focusing on growing healthy bodies, mental health, injury prevention and the environment in order to improve child and youth health and wellbeing across Canada. But no single organization can improve the health outcomes of Canada’s youngest citizens on its own: the event’s objective is to raise awareness of the importance of collaborating and investing in child and youth health issues. 

“The Sandbox Project was started to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing across the child and youth sector," said the organization’s Founder, Dr. Kellie Leitch, MP (Simcoe-Grey). "It has been remarkable to see so many individuals and organizations come together again in Ottawa today for the shared purpose of bettering the health and wellbeing of Canada’s children. It’s through this collaboration that we will continue to move forward in improving health outcomes for children across the country."

Dr. Leitch was joined in the sandbox by many of her parliamentary colleagues, including: 

  • Ziad Aboultaif, MP (Edmonton Manning)
  • Niki Ashton, MP (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski)
  • Blaine Calkins, MP (Red Deer-Lacombe)
  • Marilyn Gladu, MP (Sarnia-Lambton)
  • Rachael Harder, MP (Lethbridge)
  • Angelo Iacono, MP (Alfred-Pellan)
  • Mike Lake, MP (Edmonton-Wetaskiwin)
  • Larry Maguire, MP (Brandon-Souris)
  • Cathy McLeod, MP (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo)
  • Seamus O'Regan, MP (St. John's South-Mount Pearl)
  • Karen Vecchio, MP (Elgin-Middlesex-London)

This year, in the spirit of resource sharing and teamwork, The Sandbox Project and the Smilezone Foundation joined together to build a newly accessible sandbox structure. For the first time, in collaboration with the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services (OACRS) and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC), the Fifth Annual World’s Largest Sandbox features a raised sandbox component that will ensure access for more kids. 

“Smilezone Foundation is honoured to partner with The Sandbox Project, ensuring the World’s Largest Sandbox is fully inclusive to children of all abilities,” said Scott Bachly, Chair of the Smilezone Foundation. “We are thrilled that the newly accessible sandbox will help engage friends and families in meaningful play together and bring smiles to many faces.”

Also at this year’s event, The Sandbox Project and Pollution Probe announced the winners of the EduTOX Video Challenge, a youth environmental health video contest that formed part of Pollution Probe’s Healthy Communities Campaign.  The winning videos are: 

The World’s Largest Sandbox was made possible by Event Sponsors Yellow Pages Digital & Media Solutions Limited, the AstraZeneca Young Health Program, the Mental Health Commission of CanadaTELUS and Canadian Tire Jumpstart.  

The Sandbox structure was generously donated by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 93 and Karson Aggregates.

Photos and updates from today’s event are available online via Twitter and Instagram by following @SandboxCanada and the hashtag #OTTsandbox

Event photos can be downloaded from The Sandbox Project Flickr page

About The Sandbox Project:

The Sandbox Project is a national, registered charity working to improve the health and wellbeing of Canadian children and youth by fostering public education, sharing knowledge and resources and developing policy through public-private collaborations in the child and youth health sector.  It is Sandbox’s vision to make Canada the healthiest place in the world for children and youth to grow up, so they can contribute fully to Canada’s continued economic and social development.  The Sandbox Project is focused on improving child and youth health outcomes with respect to injury prevention, growing healthy bodies, mental health and the environment. Sandbox focuses its efforts on programs and campaigns that are national in scope and will benefit all children and youth, from coast to coast.


For further information:
Mary-Ellen Rayner
Director, Partnerships & Initiatives
The Sandbox Project
(416) 554-2610