Gate 52 at YVR was decorated with care as face painters, entertainers, Disney princesses and a magician wandered through the crowd. Children beamed and a few parents let a tear trickle down their face before wiping it away and smiling broadly at their kids. This day was about joy, not illness.
Sometimes, in my role as ambassador or influencer, I get to work with companies that truly make a difference in the world. This has always been really important to me, even before UrbanMommies existed.
Mentors and role models are crucial to our kids’ development. I am lucky that my kids are growing up in a community where they are influenced and guided by their elders, and are learning to mentor younger kids themselves.
May is a pretty special month. Tulips, showers and Mother’s Day await, but it is also a chance to raise awareness and end violence against women. Many of us have experienced emotional or physical violence, and it is the antithesis of our nurturing nature as mothers. Violence must end. Women must be safe.The Canadian Women’s Foundation raises funds and awareness for women who have experienced physical or emotional violence. This campaign helps nearly 450 shelters for abused women and their children, and funds community prevention programs that break the cycle of violence.
In partnership with Winners and HomeSense, the Canadian Women’s Foundation has launched its exclusive Shop for Hope product line. From home décor to fresh and fun day-to-day items, this limited time collection has something for everyone. Just in time for Mother’s Day, purchase a gift for mom or an inspirational woman in your life while supporting the Foundation’s work to end violence and help raise hope. 100% of net proceeds go to organizations that help women. Even better? All of these funky, stylish items are under $25.00 CDN and can be found at Winners and HomeSense locations across Canada while supplies last. So hurry. Or simply enter our giveaway below to win the entire collection! Ends 31/5 Canada only excl. Quebec.
How important is water? Very. A lemonade stand to raise funds for water wells is fabulous, but there are still 1800 kids who die EVERY DAY due to the lack of clean water in their communities. A billion people around the world don’t have access to safe water. Even with access to medications, people often take their pills with toxic water – it’s the only option.
A lack of education means that some wells are dug only feet away from the spots where latrines are situated, causing even more harmful bacteria.
UrbanMommies had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Jason Priestley – actor, director and activist who travelled to the Dominican Republic and is working to promote the Children’s Safe Drinking Water program (CSDW). Since the program launched, it has succeeded in donating over 20 million days of clean drinking water to those in need, and we hope to reach our goal of 25 million days of clean drinking water by March 31, 2015.
It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference. Just 10 cents provides one P&G water purification packet that creates 10 liters of clean water. The packets are stirred into 10 litres of water and after ten minutes, the water can be strained through cloth (even a t-shirt works) and is safe to drink.
Just $1 gives a child clean water for 50 days.
$7.50 gives a child clean water for a year.
$30 gives a family clean water for a year.
Procter & Gamble and Walmart have partnered in a simple program to provide water to people in need. Every P&G product sold at Walmart Canada will provide 1 day of clean drinking water for a family. And these are the products you are buying anyway like Tide, Gillette, Bounce, Pantene and Tampax.
Here’s our exclusive interview with talented and kind Dad, Jason Priestley.
JP: I am a dad. 1600 children die every day. Its shocking to us who live in Canada where there in such an abundance of drinking water. This is a simple program that makes huge difference in people’s lives.
UM: I read your piece on your trip to the Dominican. When I travelled to Liberia with Right to Play I saw the need for clean water and also health education. How does Children’s Safe Drinking Water choose where to help? What about education?
JP: Kids can’t go to school half the time because they’re sick. There’s not enough education. We need to do something to break that cycle – water is one of the basic building blocks of society. Clean water makes people healthy and strong so they can get to school.
UM: You have 2 children – how to you teach them to be socially conscious?
JP: That’s one of the big challenges we all face. It’s difficult but I try to look at everything as a potential teachable moment. Scarcity and the importance of water is all around us – in California too. Water is a precious commodity. We talk a lot about the importance of helping others, not just giving people money but the tools they need to improve their lives. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Water is a tool. It restores people’s health and also their dignity, improving their lives and the strength of the community.
UM: How can Canadians help?
JP: This is such a simple program. Go to a Walmart store or walmart.ca and buy the household products you use every day. P & G takes care of donating. It’s a 1 for 1 swap. 1 product = 1 day of drinking water for a family.
So far they’ve given 21 Million days of safe drinking water to families in developing countries.
UM: How do they determine where to distribute the water purification packets?
JP: They work with not for profit agencies across the globe to determine need. Unsafe drinking water kills more kids every year than HIV, aids and malaria combined.
UM: I know I went through many life changes after visiting Liberia. What was your big take-away, as a dad, after travelling to the Dominican?
JP: I loved the children. Children are the same everywhere you go: happy, joyous, playful and beautiful. There kids playing in the dirt with a ball and stick are no different than my children. I felt the need to help them. They are innocent, joyous and pure and they deserve better. We can see what the future hold for these kids even when they can’t.
A billion people don’t have access to safe water. 1600 kids die every day.
You can learn more at Walmart.ca/cleanwater
Disclosure: I am a P&G Mom and was give then chance to interview Jason Priestley. I was not compensated for this article and all opinions are my own.
There are concrete blessings for kids who learn to count their blessings, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. In one study, high school students with high levels of gratitude reported having stronger marks, less depression and envy, and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.
But gratitude is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise. You have to use it regularly if you want to see the benefits.
Canada Day is a great opportunity to nurture gratitude in our teens and younger children. As we prepare to celebrate with parades, fireworks and barbecues, we can also explore with our kids the many reasons why it’s great to live in Canada.
Here are five suggestions for building gratitude muscle this Canada Day:
1) Compare notes: Spend some time with a friend, acquaintance or neighbour who has immigrated to Canada. Encourage your kids to ask questions about life elsewhere. How is life different for kids here?
2) Dollar a day: Brainstorm over a meal about how living on a dollar a day would look. What would have to come off the dinner table to make the budget? What else would have had to go that day?
3) Watch the news: Have each family member recall a news story that makes them feel grateful to live in Canada. Share stories making the news, such as the war in Syria, or child slavery.
5) Start a tradition: Make an online donation to an organization helping children overseas, as a symbol of your family’s gratitude for life in Canada.
There have been many times over the years when I’ve wanted Elsa’s powers. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could build a whole mansion with the flick of a hand like Disney’s Frozen star? Or maybe master a project that’s a tad less extensive – like tiling a floor, using a jigsaw or hanging a light fixture. There are thousands of people across the country who need housing, live in poverty and feel isolated. The power of community and charity can not only transform not only the individuals in need, but also empower the people who want to help others. There are problem-solving women across Canada who can help while working as a team and developing construction skills in the process. The women build with Habitat for Humanity does just this. Perfection!
What family doesn’t want simple, decent and affordable housing? As an ambassador and fan of Procter & Gamble, I have been asked to represent UrbanMommies and put together a team of women in the Vancouver area to build a home! The program is part of a three year partnership totalling $900,000, that will see P&G support Habitat’s family home builds throughout the county, on behalf of its Household Needs brands such as Tide, Swiffer and Mr. Clean. This year there are builds happening in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and approximately 350 new builds are expected across Canada in 2014.
After a group of ten women (and any UrbanDaddies who wish to help) participate in a build in Richmond in September, P&G will offer cleaning kits to Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help ready the newly built homes for move-in once construction is complete, and will provide welcome baskets packed full of household products to each family moving into their new Habitat home. I am going to try to slip in a few Rainbow Loom treasures from my kids in as well. Because every new home needs some of those.
Habitat for Humanity is a special charity, and I love that one hundred percent of all administrative and fundraising costs are paid for by the operation of nine ReStores in the lower mainland. It’s great when not a dime is wasted.
So… Do ya wanna build a house? Join our team in September for a one-day build! Learn new skills, bond, help others, and be a community. Because love is an open door. (You didn’t think I’d let the Frozen theme go that easily did you?) Please email us to indicate your interest in helping out and I will be in touch!
All Women Build photos provided by Habitat for Humanity.
I remember as a little girl being excited for ‘The Nature of Things’ to come onto the TV. As the host, David Suzuki has been an environmental visionary for many years. The David Suzuki foundation began in 1990 with a mission ‘to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future’.
One of the most exciting parts of the #30Greendays challenge with SC Johnson Green Choices is that by along with having me and my family participate in the challenge, they have also agreed to donate $10,000 to a charity of our choice on behalf of UrbanMommies and SavvyMom. Seeing my boys thrive in taking care of the planet and remembering my experience as a girl watching David Suzuki, we opted for the David Suzuki Foundation. With programs in climate change, creating livable communities, the establishment of environmental rights and justice, building community and helping citizens to connect with nature, this charity speaks to all of us in some way.
We are thrilled to be given the chance to support the Foundation, and also further the UrbanMommies mission to teach and nurture children through family activities. We have chosen to designate the funds to the youth education branch of the Foundation with the following mission:
“Connect with nature — assist Canadians, especially youth, to learn about their dependence on a healthy environment and the benefits of time in nature through outdoor education and opportunities.“
As part of the UrbanMommies commitment to the environment, we will do a regular feature on activities for the whole family that will benefit nature.
MATCH International is a grant-making agency that raises Canadian dollars (non-government) that are put directly in the hands of the communities who are fighting against female injustice. Is invests in social innovation by providing agency of change to those who need it most. MATCH believes that the ability for social change comes from within the community itself. They believe that it is the people who live within these communities who are most capable of identifying what needs to be changed in order to create gender equality, and creative ways to do it. So to them, and to me, it makes sense that they directly support the people and the projects that are most affected by the struggle.
For example, in Malawi, young women were missing 3-5 school days a month when menstruating until MATCH funded a local program that allowed mothers to develop and produce locally-sourced cotton pads which were provided free to the students and sold within the community. This project provided a source of income for the mothers and markedly reduced the numbers of school days the young women were absent. On a larger scale, two years ago MATCH provided seed funding to the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) to foster programs working for social justice, equity and peace; today the AWDF supports 90 projects in 29 African countries.
I had the honour of speaking with Jess Tomlin today, the Executive Director of MATCH International Women’s Fund. Jess was in Toronto this week promoting their newest grantee partner and project: Boxgirls Kenya. This organization provides sport, leadership, and mentoring to over 800 Kenyan girls. It gives the girls a feeling of empowerment. It encourages them, their families, and the entire community to challenge the common perception of what girls can do, to see the world in a new light, and it allows them to think about how else their lives can be. This program yielded the first woman in Kenya to represent boxing for the Olympics games in 2012. This is the foundation of change that MATCH whole-heartedly strives to support.
Companies like MATCH and stories like these are the ones that inspire me to believe that we can change the world, that we can do more than just survive but thrive in bad situations. However, for every project that MATCH was able to fund this year, 80 projects had to be turned down due to lack of funding. MATCH was able to provide for 15 of the 1200 recent round of applications. That leaves hundreds of communities who have created goal-directed projects still in desperate need. Today I learned that of the money that Canadians spend on charity only 8% goes toward international causes: of that 8%, ½-¾ of this money is in response to a natural disaster – leaving 2% of Canadian donations going to all other international causes.
Jess Tomlin goes back to Ottawa today, in time to participate in the International Women’s Day on Saturday March 8th. This venue provides an opportunity to raise awareness and increase donations to MATCH so that this organization can continue to grow and advance the rights and equality of women around the globe by providing agency of change to those who need it the most.
– Colleen Docksteader
When my second son was born, we paid to have his cord blood banked and frozen in case anyone in the family became ill and in need of stem cells. Most families don’t have the luxury of this high-priced service and without a donor, Canadians can lose their lives. Science has come so far, but Canada is the only G8 country that doesn’t have a national public cord blood program. Currently there are 1000 people awaiting a stem cell match. Canadian Blood Services has launched the Climb4Cord to help change that. At a pricetag of $48 million, it is no small undertaking. As I write, my husband Derek Amery is representing UrbanDaddies by climbing Kilimanjaro for a Canadian blood cord bank. The 25 climbers had a goal of raising $500,000 and they have thankfully surpassed their goal.
Corporate sponsorship has been another huge component of the undertaking. The title sponsor, ING DIRECT provided a $100,000 donation and in-kind sponsorship. B.C. native and ING DIRECT’s Head of Social Media, Jaime Stein, is also on the 19,000-foot climb and has been sharing the team’s experiences on social media via satellite tools. I am thankful that Jaime is a social media nut like me, as I’m getting information on UrbanDaddies from the mountain via satellite phone! Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services has also been tweeting from the mountain and supporting the climbers. His passion and commitment to the cause is astonishing.
In order to train for the climb, Derek did 2 x 4-6 hour hikes weekly over several months and will be in Tanzania and traveling for 19 days. Despite the advances in tech, communication is difficult and the team is due to summit in 2 days. Needless to say, I am worried sick. Altitude sickness, injury and rockslides have been cluttering my dreams. Balancing my own worry with an outward facade of strength for the kids is tough. (But not as tough as a 9 day climb up a mountain so I’m good). Our close friend summited Everest last year and we were all nervous for him. I think as a result of that, our boys keep asking if daddy will come back and if he is going to die. As hard as it has been as the spouse of a climber, I look at our kids every day and am so grateful for their health. Every child deserves the same chance.
The cord bank is intended to improve access to stem cell transplants for patients in need by dramatically increasing the likelihood of finding a match. According to Canadian Blood Services, the bank will collect, process, test and store donated cord blood units and they’ll be available to patients both nationally and internationally who are in need of a stem cell transplant. Cord blood stem cell transplants can be used to treat more than 50 blood related diseases and disorders.
You can watch the climbers’ progress via GPS and if you would like to donate to the cause every bit will help. We’ll be publishing an interview with Derek Amery on his return. Please send your positive energy over to Africa and get ready to celebrate the summit day with us!
The bank is set to go live in September, initially with a manufacturing site and two collection hospitals in Ottawa. A Toronto hospital will come on board by the end of the year, followed by an Edmonton manufacturing site and collection hospital in 2014. A BC hospital will follow later next year, the exact location is still under negotiation.
The climb began on Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 and will stretch until Wednesday, August 14th, 2013. Monday, August 12th is SUMMIT DAY. Keep an eye out for summit updates.