By Owen Charters
Today is National Child Day. You will see campaigns on social media and elsewhere from Boys & Girls Clubs, from UNICEF, from Children First Canada, and many other child and youth serving organizations.
The messages together convey one key element: children are being impacted by COVID-19 in serious and difficult ways.
Mental health challenges are rising. Our partners at Kids Help Phone report that their caseloads have never been higher.
Learning loss is significant—and virtual learning is not a great substitute for in-person classrooms, especially for those that don’t have proper access to internet or learning devices, or have a family situation that is not conducive to learning and support.
Families are struggling—calls to divorce lawyers are up 40% as the strains and stress of the pandemic amplify difficult situations. Children who rely on foster homes and government supports have been aging out of care, without decent options.
Healthcare for children is backlogged as medical procedures and consultations are postponed.
The list of challenges is unfortunately long, and I’ve only touched on some. It sounds dire—and it is.
At the same time, we’re hearing greater support from governments to keep schools open, including supporting child care and after school care options. A recognition that we need to prop up our systems for kids and teens, as the fabric of support is showing more wear and tear through the pandemic.
Together, many charitable organizations are amplifying the voices of children and youth, ensuring they are heard. That their needs are front and centre. It’s time to give them the megaphone.
National Child Day is one opportunity to give youth a platform to raise their voices, but it’s not the only one. Advocacy is a 365-day effort, every year, and there is always more we can do.
“Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!”
—Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who