The Sandbox Project White Paper: Action Through Collaboration

In 2007 Canada’s Advisor on Healthy Children & Youth, Dr. Kellie Leitch, published Reaching For The Top: A Report by the Advisor on Healthy Children & Youth. This report revealed that Canada was underperforming according to key global health indicators, slipping further and further behind its peer countries. Given that Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, and has a universal health care system, it is surprising that among OECD countries Canada:

  • Ranks 12th in overall child wellbeing (OECD, 2009);
  • Ranks 22nd in child health and safety (OECD, 2009);
  • Ranks 10th in child behaviours and risks (OECD, 2009); and
  • Has an obesity prevalence rate of 28.9 percent for boys and 26.1 percent for girls aged 5-17 (OECD, 2011).

These rankings predicated and informed a national research study that generated several key recommendations for national action, including:

  1. The establishment of a national injury prevention strategy;
  2. Actions to reduce childhood obesity;
  3. Improvement of child and youth mental health care;
  4. The execution of a longitudinal cohort study on Canadian children and youth related to environmental factors influencing children's health; and
  5. The development of a national office of child and youth health with a permanent advisor (Leitch, 2007).

In response to these recommendations, The Sandbox Project was established to focus on four areas: injury prevention, mental health, growing healthy bodies and the environment. The Sandbox Project is home to a Work Group comprised of subject matter experts, health care professionals, industry leaders, parents, government policy makers, non-governmental organizations and academics, focused on achieving national results in each of these four areas.

The Sandbox Project has a clear vision: help make Canada the healthiest place on earth for children and youth to grow and thrive. The Sandbox Project sets out to achieve this vision by making measurable progress against international health indicators in the next five years.

ACTION THROUGH COLLABORATION is The Sandbox Project’s first white paper. Named for the Sandbox Project’s inaugural 2011 conference where more than 300 concerned stakeholders met to exchange ideas and best practices for achieving immediate and sustainable improvement in the health of Canada’s children and youth, the white paper outlines the scope of the organization and directs stakeholder efforts in its first year of operation.