Child Friendly TO is a City of Toronto initiative that aims to transform our city into a place where all children can learn, play and grow in the healthiest way possible. We are building a culture that applies a child-friendly lens to inform City planning and decision-making by increasing the role and voice of children in municipal affairs and promoting the rights of children across Toronto, as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Child Friendly TO is grounded in the Child Friendly Policy Framework. We believe that:
Raising the Village is an initiative of the Toronto Child and Family Network. It includes shared outcomes for child and family well-being in Toronto and presents data that shows how well Toronto is doing under each area.
The City of Toronto worked with Maximum City to create the KidScore. The KidScore tests the child-friendliness of Toronto neighbourhoods – as defined by Toronto’s kids!
The KidScore focuses on children aged 5 to 12 and includes indicators on safety, health and overall well-being. It is a way for children to assess the child-friendliness of their local streets, places and neighbourhoods.
The information and ideas collected through the KidScore can inform planning at a local level as well as city-wide policies.
Engaging children in consultations is as important as engaging adults, however the approach for this is often quite different. Children have both the right and the ability to contribute their ideas, preferences, and opinions. The challenge for adults is to provide the right opportunity for them to do so in a meaningful and appropriate way. A Child Engagement Toolkit, created by the City of Toronto’s Child Friendly TO team in 2019, provides guidance, tips, and examples of child engagement activities to support adults in engaging children in an effective way.
In the fall of 2018, children in grade four and five classes in Toronto were invited to share their ideas about creating a child-friendly city.
We asked them:
Children from nine schools across Toronto responded with hundreds of submissions, from written responses, to drawings, photographs, and maps. They described the people, places and things that need to be involved and considered to create a child-friendly city and their ideas were summarized in A Child-Friendly City: How would Toronto look if it were planned through the eyes of a child?
All children have rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that recognizes the specific rights of children.
Through the Convention, children have the right to:
Canada offers many opportunities for children and their families. Despite this, however, “some children suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases and unequal access to good quality education, protection and justice systems. The standards and principles articulated in the Convention can only become a reality when they are respected by everyone—within the family, in schools and other institutions that provide services for children, in communities and at all levels of government.” UNICEF Canada
Canada ratified the Convention in 1991. It is all of our responsibility to ensure that these rights are upheld.
November 20 is National Child Day. It has been proclaimed in the City of Toronto and is recognized officially by the Government of Canada to acknowledge and promote children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The day celebrates the importance of children as active participants in their own lives and communities, who can and should have opportunities for meaningful contributions to decision-making.
This year’s theme is “The Right to Survive and Thrive.” This comes from Article 6 of the UNCRC and means that every child has the right not only to be alive, but to have access to what they need to develop to the fullest extent possible.
This theme is particularly important in the current pandemic. After more than 20 months into this pandemic, the impacts of COVID-19 on children and youth are unprecedented. The pandemic has shone a light on the vast inequities that exist between communities and families, with children from families most impacted by these inequities at greatest risk. As we continue to plan and respond to COVID-19 and as we consider a recovery from the pandemic, it is critical that we focus our efforts on what will help children thrive through these difficult times and beyond.
An online lunch and learn session titled Moving beyond survival: How to help children and youth thrive through a pandemic recovery will be provided for City staff on November 24 by:
The day was proclaimed by Mayor John Tory. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional activities were not provided for National Child Day in 2020.
Children have an important voice!
Children have the right and the ability to inform decisions and projects that directly impact them. Three impressive examples of this in Toronto were showcased in a National Child Day event on November 20, 2019. Check out the video below for highlights!
To recognize National Child Day 2019, an event was held at City Hall with local students and City leaders. Students shared how they have contributed their ideas and opinions through civic projects to make their communities and Toronto increasingly child-friendly.
The projects highlighted included:
Thank you to all the children who participated and shared their ideas and opinions. Please see the video above for highlights of this incredible event.
In celebration of National Child Day in 2018, the ideas and perspectives of grade 4/5 students across Toronto were showcased at City Hall. Key themes included:
Two grade 4/5 classes from Kensington Community School (TDSB) and St. Barnabas (TCDSB) held a meeting with the Mayor and senior City officials to share their ideas. The media captured the ideas presented by the children; check out this video from CBC Kids. Thank you to all of the children who participated. You were heard.