(PHOTO: NEWS : Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts at Cities Fit for Children Conference with youth volunteers from the “Leap” program.)


LOCAL, regional and provincial leaders gathered in Surrey November 20-22 to discuss strategies and programs and share expertise on how to build cities fit for children and youth. The conference was attended by decision-makers and experts including Kerry Constabile of UNICEF; public health physician Dr. Trevor Hancock; Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts; Nic Mason with the University of Auckland; and researchers from UBC and McCreary Centre Society.

Cities Fit for Children Provincial Summit started with a pre-conference event on November 20 to acknowledge National Child Day and provide an opportunity for parents and caregivers to participate in the conference. This special evening, offered in partnership with the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, was entitled “Thriving Children: Start by Nurturing the Heart”. It had over 300 parents, caregivers, educators and government staff in attendance.

“With more than a third of its population under 19, and home to the largest school district in the province, Surrey is a young city,” said Watts. “It is imperative that we continue to build a community where children are valued, engaged and given opportunity for healthy development.”

The Summit held on November 21-22 had over 300 delegates from various sectors. Its goals were fourfold: to affirm important leadership role for BC municipalities in promoting healthy child development; to increase the awareness of the critical importance of the early years; to showcase leadership and innovation of BC municipalities in promoting child development; and to increase the strategies and tools available to municipalities to take action to promote child development.

This year’s theme was ‘Child Rights’ and focused on three key areas: programs and services, healthy built environments and meaningful civic engagement.