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UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative

On November 20, 2019, at the Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) meeting, members learned about UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI). Members heard an overview presentation from Co-Chair Debbie Engel, as well as a TED Talk and Q&A from Mara Mintzer of Growing Up Boulder. Technical difficulties prevented us from hearing a presentation from Ian Smith of Child Friendly Edmonton, which can be found here. This segment of the meeting aimed to introduce members to the concept of CFCI, and engage in dialogue about the potential opportunity for CYPT to work with UNICEF Canada to develop a Canadian CFCI designation.

Following discussion at tables, members recorded their insights on the advantages of working with UNICEF on this project, outstanding questions, and ways this work ties in with existing projects in Waterloo Region. Below are some of the most common questions from members:

What is the process of becoming a Child Friendly City?

That is exactly what we have the opportunity to develop! UNICEF Canada is very interested in what child and youth wellbeing collaboratives (such as CYPT and Child Friendly Edmonton) to develop a Canadian CFCI designation for outside of Quebec. Some broad criteria of the designation are pre-determined, such as having a strategy for children/youth, clear budget analysis, and youth participation mechanisms, but what shape those criteria take has not been fully determined for Canada. We have the opportunity to leverage our existing collaboration to help this designation take shape for Canadian communities of all sizes and geographies.

How might CYPT be involved with CFCI?

The CYPT Steering Committee is working with UNICEF Canada to explore how our knowledge as a collaborative could contribute to establishing a Child-Friendly Cities Initiative designation for use across Canada.

Who will lead this work?

UNICEF Canada is leading the work on a CFCI designation for communities outside of Quebec (which already has an established designation). CYPT Manager Alison Pearson is working directly with Lisa Wolfe at UNICEF Canada, alongside colleagues in other municipalities, to advise on this project.

Does this initiative represent a refocus for CYPT? Are we reinventing the wheel?

A potential CFCI designation would be recognition from UNICEF Canada of the work that’s already being done here in Waterloo Region, and builds on the efforts and experiences of our coalition for children and youth. This project leverages our work for broader coalition-building and buy-in across the country.


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