UNICEF’s PSA reminder of how much kids have suffered during the pandemic

Who: UNICEF Canada, with Juniper Park\TBWA for creative.

What: “Reset and Restart,” a PSA campaign to remind Canadians that children around the world have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign is running now across donated broadcast inventory, with digital plans still in the works.

Why: A staggering 1.6 billion children were kept from school at some point during the pandemic, a disruption that deprived many of fundamental protections such as health care, proper nutrition and safe water. UNICEF describes it as the “worst crisis for children” in its 75-year history.

“Without the safety net of school and other social services, children are at risk of the worst possible levels of exploitation, neglect, and abuse,” said Rowena Pinto, chief program officer, UNICEF Canada, in a release introducing the campaign. “They have forever lost parts of their childhood. UNICEF cannot ignore the impact of the pandemic on children, and we need Canadians to be aware of it, too.”

Aside from school lockdowns, other critical programs to reduce acute malnutrition and provide basic immunizations were put on hold, leading to increased risks for preventable diseases such as measles, polio and meningitis.

How: To illustrate how the pandemic is forcing kids to give up their childhood to become breadwinners and otherwise take care of their families, the new PSA asks “When is a kid no longer a kid,” showing some of the many ways kids around the world have suffered during the global health crisis. “[W]e believe every kid has the right to a childhood,” says the young narrator. “Help us defend that right at UNICEF.ca.”

“While many of us have seen the effects of the pandemic firsthand, we are still blind to the shocking ways it has impacted the children that UNICEF supports, in Canada and around the world,” said Jenny Glover, executive creative director, Juniper Park\TBWA. “The sad truth is that children have been the unheralded victims of the pandemic, losing precious moments of their childhood; moments they will never get back.”

And we quote: “Beyond lost learning, children have also lost the safety of school, daily in-person interactions with friends, access to healthcare, and, too often, their only nutritious meal of the day. This generation of schoolchildren could collectively lose US$17 trillion in potential lifetime earnings.”  — UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore, in a December statement about the need to keep schools open just as the Omicron variant started to surge around the world

David Brown