At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Healthy Youth Leads to Healthy Economy

This week we are recognizing World Health Day (April 7th) and the theme this year is #foodsafety. Although that is a concern for everyone, it got us thinking about the importance of health in general.

Many countries are now recording a Wellness Index in addition to GDP to keep track of the prosperity and growth of their nation. Measures regarding Mental Health, Obesity, and even Bullying and Cyberbullying are being added to more traditional economic measures to get a much deeper, richer measure of national progress and welfare.

Fortunately for us, Canada ranks fifth on the OECD's Better Life Index (BLI), behind Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, when it comes to scores in 11 areas including health, income, jobs and life satisfaction are weighed equally.

But we still have some improvements to make.

Unfortunately, we are seeing dangerous downward trends in important health determinants such as obesity, physical activity levels, bullying and cyberbullying and mental health.
  • one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness,
  • less than 20% of the estimated 1.2 million Canadian children and youth affected by mental illness will receive appropriate treatment.
  • 1 in 4 Canadian children is obese
  • 7% of Canadian (5-11) year-olds and 4% of Canadian (12- 17) year-olds meet recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries

How Mentoring Can Reverse the Trend

Mentoring has a huge impact on wellbeing and yet it is still grossly underfunded and undervalued in our society. Several studies have demonstrated that kids who have a Big Brother or a Big Sister are less likely to be depressed and less likely to bully or be bullied. Girls in our Go Girls! program improved their eating habits and increased their leisure activity levels. Boys in our Game On! program showed improvement in their academic attendance and achievements.

It is critical to establish the foundation for healthy emotional and social development through prevention and early intervention services to support the health and mental well-being of every Canadian as they progress from childhood to adulthood.

If you would like to support the wellbeing of Canada’s youth – you can donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters today!

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