After just returning from the Philippines, and having traveled to several countries less fortunate than Canada over the past few years, I can’t stop thinking about the affect of food on the health of a community. In Liberia, for instance, citizens had access to potatoes, fish, coconuts and chicken but scarcely few fruits and vegetables. Last week in the Philippines I witnessed intense poverty, but the prevalence of fruit trees, rice fields (photo below) and meats made the communities far less taxed and happier. Even in our thriving country of Canada, we have some severe food shortages. From now on, we should think about how to ‘feed it forward’.
We all saw the news clips – from heart-stopping marine rescues near Turkey to Justin Trudeau handing out winter coats to our new friends from Syria. But sometimes, apart from handing over money to large organizations, Canadians don’t know exactly what they can do to help.
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.