Building inspiring healthy futures: A partnership for children, youth and families in Canada

By Sarah A De La Rue

The community of purpose convened through Inspiring Healthy Futures has developed an exciting and unique vision to measurably improve the health and well-being of children, youth and families in Canada as discussed in the article on page 16 of this issue. This collective strategy comprises five interlinked domains that are the foundation for a healthier, brighter future for children, youth and families in Canada through the generation of systemic change. The domains include both advocacy and action to mobilize and connect communities around cross-disciplinary research with an equity lens, enhance access to integrated healthcare, social services and education, and incorporate a child-centred approach to policy and structures. The vision has already demonstrated a strong resonance with the organizations and individuals engaged in its development, as well as with a broad cross-section of the public who were engaged in a subsequent public awareness campaign.

However, for this vision to be achieved – to “rewrite the rules for policy, investment, innovation and partnerships needed for children, youth and families in Canada to thrive” (Pg 16 of this issue) – it is essential that we maintain this momentum, to drive the impact and fully unlock the potential. Key to this will be harnessing the collective passion of the organizations and individuals who contributed to the development of the vision into a common purpose connected by a shared identity. This community of purpose has already embodied one of the primary elements essential to establishing a common purpose, with extensive engagement of children, youth and families allowing their viewpoints and needs to form the core of the vision. Moving forward it will be essential to keep all these organisations and individuals connected and aligned through shared conversations and activities, as well as grow our partnership. We can achieve this by building on the strengths and priorities of all those in Canada who share this passion for the health and well-being of our children, youth and families.


Using a collective impact model, Inspiring Healthy Futures is now taking the next step that will allow this multi-sector community of purpose to deliver its vision. The organizations that founded Inspiring Healthy Futures (UNICEF Canada, Children’s Healthcare Canada, the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health, and the Pediatric Chairs of Canada) are demonstrating their ongoing commitment through the establishment of a backbone team that will form, nurture and grow a partnership with a focus that is dedicated to maximizing the impact of the Inspiring Health Futures vision.

This backbone team’s primary focus will be to support alignment with and delivery of the vision to engender development, harmonization and growth of multi-sector activities. Incorporating and continuously updating the perspective on the needs of children, youth and families will support constant and focused co-creation along the pathway to delivering on the Inspiring Healthy Futures vision.

The partnership will also co-create and communicate metrics that will allow both the sharing of, but also learning from and building upon, the successes of the partnership. Comparison of efforts across the partnership and beyond will drive breakthroughs that will enhance everyone’s activities, allowing shifts in perspective and approach that will benefit all. Demonstrating these successes, including both impact and return on investment, will support identity and connection across the partnership, key elements to sustaining momentum and attracting necessary funding.

Through these actions, we will ensure that a vision that found it’s momentum and resonance during a pandemic – a time of unprecedented instability and, for many, crisis – will be supported by a community of purpose that will sustain velocity towards a healthier, brighter future for our children, youth and families in Canada.

We invite you and everyone who shares this passion to engage with us, consider joining our partnership and reach out to share your priorities and concerns, to discuss where you hear yourself and your organization within this vision, and to co-create our pathway to impact.

Sarah A De La Rue is Executive Director, Inspiring Healthy Futures.