Why are we working with children and youth?
Children and youth are the present and future of Canada. 1 in every 4 Canadians is a child. Equipping children with knowledge of human rights and leadership skills not only equips them to reach their full potential, but also helps build communities that are inclusive, equitable and rights respecting.
Our innovative programs use practical, fun, human rights education activities creating understanding of human rights values among children, youth and program staff. By doing activities, children and youth gain the skills to be more inclusive and respectful in their everyday behaviour, and to participate more actively in community life.
Together, let’s give :
- every child the space to play and belong
- every youth the chance to be a leader of community change
Through our work in Canada, we have:
- reached more than 800,000 children and youth in 45 communities.
- implemented programs in more than 550 summer camps, classrooms and after-school programs
- used our unique approach in more than 170 schools and across 8 school boards.
Our Theory of Change
Equitas’ work across Canada contributes to building inclusive, equitable and safer communities where children and youth are taking leadership to promote respect for diversity and human rights.
Building children and youth leadership means supporting the development of attitudes, behaviours, knowledge and skills that enable children and youth to participate in positive social change in their communities. Equitas develops children and youth leadership through a collaborative and participatory process that is grounded in a human rights-based approach and promotes the values of inclusion, equality and non-discrimination.
Equitas works to shift attitudes & behaviours, build individual & organizational capacity, and strengthen networks that are crucial to systemic shifts that reinforce inclusive, equitable, and safer communities.
Learn more about our Theory of Change and our Educational Approach with Children and Youth here (PDF).
Play it Fair!
For 6-12 year olds and those working with children:
- promotes children’s well-being and participation using value-based games in day camps, afterschool programs and schools.
- children learn about human rights values (fairness, acceptance, inclusion), peaceful conflict resolution, and become leaders in promoting respect for diversity, and countering exclusion and bullying in their communities.
What people say
“The Play it Fair! activities really made a positive change in our school. It made the kids realize that we should all do our part to live in a better society even though it’s small changes and we should all take it seriously.”
– English Montreal School Board Educator
“We learned how to resolve conflicts while at the same time having fun.”
– Child participant, Vancouver
For 12-18 year olds and those working with youth:
- builds youth’s sense of belonging and participation through activities that focus on self-esteem, critical thinking, peaceful conflict resolution, leadership and active citizenship.
- Youth identify issues that are important to them (e.g. exclusion, discrimination, environment, homophobia) and work together to do Action Projects to engage with their community.
What people say
“The change we have seen in our youth as a result of doing this project is their overall confidence level and increased self-esteem. For example, at the event, a particular youth, who is unable to consistently attend our youth group due to personal obligations, took the reins of one of the activities and ran it successfully. (…) This is how the Speaking Rights toolkit continues to pave the way for youth to take leadership in the community and make healthy decision”
– Youth worker, Toronto
Young women, Young leaders
For young women 15-25 year olds and those working with young women:
- young women participate in workshops on self-esteem, identity, barriers, and together initiate Action Projects to create spaces for participation in their communities.
- A particular focus is placed on building the leadership of newcomer & refugee young women, young women who face socio-economic barriers, and young women in care.
What people say
“The (girls) learned a lot about differences issues, like hypersexualization, sexism, egalitarian relationships, sexual exploitation, women’s rights. They developed critical thinking and analysis skills regarding these phenomena and they became agents of change.”
– Youth worker, Montreal
- British Columbia Multicultural Award (2016) in recognition of our work building welcoming and inclusive communities in B.C. and across Canada.
- Tri-Cities award (2015) for Play it Fair! B.C.
- Equitas was awarded the Quebec Human Rights Commission Rights and Freedoms prize (2014) for its work with children and youth.
- Trailblazer award (2014) from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child
- Received Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s Award of Excellence (2012) for engaging youth in the fight against inequality, exclusion and racism through its Speaking Rights program in Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
- Awarded the Prix de la citoyenneté Ann Greenup (2009) recognizing exceptional efforts in the struggle against racism in Québec
- Awarded Honorable mention, Award of Excellence in Anti-Racism in Canada (2008) by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
- Recognized as a best practice in “A Compendium of Good Practice: Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America” by the Council of Europe, OSCE ODIHR, UN OHCHR and UNESCO and the Good Ideas in Integration on the Cities in Migration website.
Since the launch of programs for children and youth, our partners across Canada have reported important changes in the behaviour of children, changes in the approach used by directors and child care workers running the program as well as the integration of the Equitas approach into other areas of their work with children.
Equitas works with more than 300 community partners in Canada.
To learn more about our funding partners, please visit our Partners page.