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Rethink and United Way BC Aim to Help Combat Children’s Mental Wellness Challenges with Spring Campaign

25/05/2023
Advertising Agency
Toronto, Canada
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With Canadian Mental Health Awareness Month running throughout May, Children's Mental Health Week between May 1st-7th, and National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7th – youth wellbeing is top of mind all month long

United Way BC hopes to "Help Bring the Joy Back to Childhood '' in its spring fundraising campaign calling attention to child and youth mental well-being, featuring emotional renditions of children's video game characters, product mascots, and toys – and challenging popular children's brands to do the same.

The life of school-aged kids are often portrayed as joyous, as reflected by the brand mascots, characters, and toys that fill their world. The universe of children's products is saturated with depictions of happiness, but – based on a recent UNICEF Report – this no longer reflects reality for many Canadian kids. In fact, one in four Canadian children between the ages of six and 12 struggle with their mental well-being as youth depression and anxiety rates climb at an alarming rate.

United Way British Columbia (United Way BC) – working with communities in BC's Interior, Lower Mainland, Central & Northern Vancouver – has launched a 12-week fundraising campaign to bring attention to the issue of child and youth mental well-being, featuring emotional renditions of children's video game characters, product mascots, and toys with the message: "Help Bring the Joy Back to Childhood". The campaign began in April and will be running through June, as kids say goodbye to their school schedule and look ahead to their annual summer break. 

"Due to new societal and economic pressures, kids are carrying more emotional baggage than ever," said Michael McKnight, president & CEO, of United Way British Columbia. "We must come together to help kids in our local communities access programmes that help them with their mental well-being, like United Way BC School's Out and School's Out Summer programmes."

United Way BC has intentionally "flipped the script" and shifted the disposition and appearance of beloved childhood characters and mascots from typically happy and joyous, to sad and melancholy, to raise awareness of the rising rates of kids experiencing anxiety and depression, and with a hope for the public to take a step back, reflect and think about the current status of children and youth, particularly their mental well-being.

The campaign hopes to help children know that it's okay not to be okay, by building awareness on the importance of providing quality programmes that support their mental well-being and build resiliency.

With Canadian Mental Health Awareness Month running throughout May, Children's Mental Health Week between May 1st-7th, and National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7th – youth wellbeing is top of mind all month long. 

As an extension to the campaign, United Way BC is launching a call to action to popular brand mascots and iconic faces to temporarily alter their mascots this month, whether through their social media icons, their websites, and maybe even their packaging.

So, United Way BC's very own mascot – Seymour the Otter – has themself changed their demeanour to kick off the Sadscots initiative.

The general public can learn more and support United Way BC's children's and youth programmes by making a donation here.

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