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 effect 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’.
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.
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.
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You remember when you were young. Ok, younger. Trick or treating was the highlight of your year and during all of the other seasons you walked by certain neighbourhood houses and smiled. The man in the tudor house made you tell a story before being given candy. And there was the dentist who handed out toothbrushes. You were certain the yellow house was haunted. Why your dad always wanted to linger at that place that gave him a hot drink is still a mystery… As a child you build relationships and memories with neighbours, and when you make your house memorable on Halloween it creates a perfect opportunity to reach out to your community.
The notion that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is powerful and true. This opportunity once per year where you meet children and neighbourhood families is powerful and should be used to make lasting connections to others. Let’s make your house the one the kids remember for years and years shall we?
Top Eight Ways to Make your House the Coolest Hallowe’en Destination on the Block.
1. Let your profession or passion trickle into the treats. An actor? Hand out chocolates wrapped in old theatre tickets. Doctor? Tape a bandaid to the top of a candy wrapper. It’s the little inspirations that kids remember.
2. Give out amazing candy. The new Hallowe’en inspired Scary Bars are a great place to start. ScAero, KIT KAT, Scaries and Coffin Crisp. These are the same favourite bars with updated packaging and frightening names.
3. Follow out scariest House on the Block décor ideas. Dress up, create an atmosphere and stimulate the senses as the kids approach your house.
4. Hand out an alternative to candy. Depending on how many children come to your house, little dollar star balls that light up or bugs made out of pinecones with googly eyes can be fun.
5. Think charity. Now that Unicef boxes have gone by the wayside (sniff), there are still lots of ways you have give back at Hallowe’en. Me to We with Free the Children produce upcycled rafiki friend bracelets that allow one child in Africa to get school supplies for a year. A voucher given to a child saying that you have donated an amount equal to what you would have spent on candy to charity along with an explanation of the charity is truly unique.
6. Have a party on hallowe’en night and have lots of people in costume come to the door each time the bell rings.
7. Offer water for the kids to curb dehydration, and a little hot toddy for their parents. The extra minutes they remain at your house will create some time for families to get to know each other.
Image credit: Mental Floss
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Scary Bars. All of our opinions are our own.
What kid doesn’t want to set up on the front lawn with ice-cold lemonade and a cash box? Not only to pass the time and teach them some math skills, you can up the ante a bit by encouraging them to donate the proceeds to a charitable organization. Make a day of it with girly lemonade stands that help fellow women attain their basic rights in third world countries.
Small actions can drive big change. Plan Canada’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ initiative is helping to inspire youth to turn lemons into Pink LemonAid by hosting LemonAid fundraisers in their communities.
The girl issue is real, and it’s affecting girls and women around the world – but what is it? Girls in the poorest regions of the world are among the most disadvantaged people on the planet. They are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be denied access to education, and more likely to be malnourished, simply because they are young and female.
And yet, studies show that when you invest in girls, the whole world benefits. If a girl has enough to eat, a safe environment, and an education, she’ll work to raise the standard of living for herself, her family and her community. And in time, she can even strengthen the economy of her entire country.
Did you know?
- 70% of the one billion people living in extreme poverty are women and girls.
- Girls are 3x more likely to be malnourished than boys.
- Globally, 66 million girls do not attend primary or secondary school.
There is an urgent need to stand up for the rights of millions of girls. In the poorest regions of the world, girls face double discrimination and unique barriers to survival and development, simply because they are young and female.
But when girls attain their basic human rights, they will:
- Be 6x less likely to be married as children
- Have 2.2 fewer yet healthier children
- Increase their contributions to household income by 18%
Pink LemonAid Kits full of helpful tips, educational materials and instructions on hosting can be downloaded online here. Moms can review the materials with their children and educate them on the importance of helping out girls from around the world who are less fortunate.
Although there are always exceptions to every rule, the majority of children are born with kind hearts and enjoy doing good things and helping people. Sure, they have their moments of selfishness, clamoring after their own and other kids’ toys, but most kids are good people that like making the world a better place. The benefits of actively fostering children’s charitable impulses are enormous. Besides helping counter the overdeveloped “gimme” impulse, it gives kids a powerful boost in self-esteem to realize they can make a difference in someone’s life. Here are some tips on kids and charity, and how to encourage a giving spirit.