Civic leaders are being urged to protect the interests of children.
Advocates will use the current municipal election campaign to raise the profile of children’s rights and the impact of poverty on youth.
“Children don’t have a right to vote but we want to ensure they have a voice,” said Trina Devine, with the Early Childhood Education of B.C.
Among the issues candidates will be asked about during the election are affordable housing, sustainable wages for parents, support systems for children and providing greenspace.
“We want our municipalities to take a stand,” said Lynn Reside, with the North Okanagan Early Child Development Coalition.
“We need to help them become good citizens of our community.”
Reside says the decisions politicians make can influence how the community works together on issues.
Statistics indicate many local children are struggling with early developmental skills.
“Twenty-four to 28 per cent of children in the Vernon School District are vulnerable. They can’t hold a pencil or tell a story,” said Devine.
One of the possible reasons for poor motor and communication skills is children spending too much time with the TV or computer.
A charter is currently being developed that would outline actions that can assist children.
“Children belong to all of us,” said Reside.
“Parents are under pressure and stressed these days. There are huge housing costs, employment issues and they are working longer than previous generations.”
Buffy Baumbrough, a Vernon councillor, believes municipalities should actively represent children.
“Local government need to have children in their minds when making decisions,” she said.
Baumbrough says more needs to be done to ensure families have affordable housing.
“When a majority of a parent’s income is going to housing, there is less money going to food. A lack of nutrition affects learning among children,” she said.