Timeline:  2014-2019
Client: UNICEF Canada
Overlap Lead: Ryan Voisin

The Challenge

The well-being of a nation’s children is a powerful indicator of that nation’s future. Yet of the 29 richest countries in the world, Canada’s ranking is mediocre—sitting at 17th of 29 on UNICEF’s Index of Child Well-Being. For children’s self-reported life satisfaction, Canada sits at 24th of 29 countries. 

To make Canada a better place for young people would require a transformation on a national scale. Unsure how to tackle this wicked problem, UNICEF paired with Overlap to explore options. 

The Process

In 2014, Overlap worked with UNICEF Canada to imagine an organization or initiative on a scale that would impact child well-being at a national level. We convened stakeholders–including children and youth, in communities across Canada. Together with children, youth, parents, experts and child serving organizations, we created One Youth: A movement to make Canada the #1 country in the world for kids by 2030. 

One Youth has three core goals: Designing solutions with children and youth, changing the current conversation about child and well-being in Canada, and better measuring outcomes that matter to young people. Overlap now leads the design initiatives of One Youth. 

The Outcomes

One Youth has engaged over a thousand children, youth and caring adults in a conversation about the future of childhood in Canada. Unicef Canada has made a youth-centred approach a core part of how they operate. Young people are helping UNICEF Canada design and implement projects including: 

  • The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-Being, a 125-indicator framework for measuring well-being, which has launched and is now being piloted by Waterloo Region as the benchmark for regional progress. 
  • U-Report, a polling application for gathering in-the-moment input from youth, is now live and in use as a policy advocacy tool. 
  • The Youth-Centred Design Toolkit, a guide and set of tools supporting organizations to design with youth, is currently being tested and receiving feedback form organizations across Canada and internationally.

UNICEF Canada’s human-centred design approach is being adopted by UNICEF more broadly, Overlap has been invited to use our process with UNICEF internationally, in New York, Geneva, Jakarta, and Amman.