Reaching for the Top: National summit brings together leading experts in child and youth health

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The Sandbox Project hosted its 8th national stakeholder gathering on April 12th at TELUS House in Toronto, creating a venue for experts and conference participants to work together on strategies to improve health outcomes for young people throughout Canada.

This year’s Sandbox Summit marked the tenth anniversary of The Sandbox Project’s foundational report, Reaching for the Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth. In 2008, Reaching for the Top highlighted that Canada was slipping further behind its peer countries when it comes to key health indicators for children and youth. It proposed a number of recommendations for how all sectors need to work together if we are to see meaningful improvement.

Joined by the author of Reaching for the Top, paediatric orthopaedic surgeon and Founder of The Sandbox Project, Dr. K. Kellie Leitch MP, participants took a collaborative look at Canada’s progress in child and youth health and wellbeing outcomes. While there is excellent work taking place across the country, the reality is that Canada continues to rank unacceptably low among our peer countries when it comes to children’s health: According to the latest UNICEF data, Canada ranks 25th of 41 wealthy countries. 

Throughout the day, the Summit heard updates from leaders across child and youth health on progress made in several key areas over the past year. Highlights from Sandbox-partnered initiatives included:

In the field of children’s advocacy, Children First Canada presented the Canadian Children’s Charter, a call to action to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of children. The Canadian Child and Youth Health Coalition, a coalition of national paediatric health organizations, shared updates on the critical advocacy discussion taking place around establishing a Commission for Children and Youth in Canada. 

Participants enjoyed a delicious lunch supported by Real Food for Real Kids, a social real food enterprise that uses Ontario and Canadian sustainably & organically grown foods and is a pioneer in catering and delivering nutritious foods to kids in childcare centres, elementary schools & camps.

Key to the annual Sandbox Summit is the opportunity for cross-sector collaboration to solve the most pressing issues in child and youth health and wellbeing as identified by the organizations in the room. This year, during “Open Space” collaborative sessions, individuals and organizations from across the Sandbox network brought their own promising practices and opportunities for stakeholder collaboration. Some of these sessions included:

  • A YCRH-led roundtable to help inform the Government of Canada’s first-ever Youth Policy
  • A consultation on reintroducing the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit
  • A working group session on Mobilizing new CHILD Study findings on breastfeeding and introduction of solid foods
  • An interactive session on the Sandbox Youth Mental Health Initiative
  • A stakeholder feedback discussion on the new Injury Prevention primer
  • An update from the Brock Healthy Youth Project, including early Focus Areas and knowledge mobilization plans
  • To join the Sandbox Summit discussion on Twitter, please follow #Sandbox2018.

For further details, please contact us