In Response to COVID-19, the 19th Annual Walk So Kids Can Talk Transforms into a New Virtual Fundraiser
TORONTO, May 28, 2020 /CNW/ - Kids Help Phone's annual Walk so Kids Can Talk presented by BMO is back for another year, this time with a twist. The new virtual Never Dance Alone-a-thon powered by BMO will take place across Canada this Sunday, May 31st, to encourage fundraising and spread awareness about the importance of supporting young people through an especially distressing and uncertain time.
Since early March, Kids Help Phone has experienced a record surge in demand from youth experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of COVID-19. Increased isolation, school cancellation and social distancing are just a few of the reasons youth are reaching out, with call volumes increasing by more than 50 per cent. This year, more than ever, Kids Help Phone needs kids, adults, community organizations and corporations to come together to connect and demonstrate that no young person should ever feel alone – now, or ever.
BMO has been a sponsor of Kids Help Phone's Walk so Kids Can Talk for almost a decade, last year, more than 9,000 walkers raised over $1.9 million for Kids Help Phone.
"While we can't physically walk together this year, as we've done since 2012, BMO – as presenting sponsor and long-time steadfast partner – is adapting to these challenging times in a new, virtual way with the first-ever Kids Help Phone Never Dance Alone-a-thon," said Dan Barclay, Chief Executive Officer & Group Head, BMO Capital Markets and National Walk Co-Champion. "Right now, young people in Canada are even more in need of access to Kids Help Phone's crucial counselling and support services. Every child deserves to be heard and helping those in need is at the core of how BMO lives our Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good."
On May 31, BMO is inviting everyone across Canada to dance in support of Kids Help Phone to ensure young people everywhere never feel alone and have a safe place to turn when they need help. Once participants' dances are filmed, they can upload them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or TikTok, using the hashtag #neverdancealone and tagging @KidsHelpPhone.
Kids Help Phone provides 24/7 free, confidential, counselling and support services to over 1,500 young people every day. From trouble at home, to sadness, grief, identity, stigma, violence and abuse, kids can call a counsellor or text a trained-volunteer Crisis Responder for guidance, any time.
"Thank you to BMO for being by our side for over 30 years. Your support allows the young people of Canada to access support – especially now during these uncertain times," said Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone. "By pivoting from walking to dancing, we are spreading much needed joy. Together, we are mobilizing hope as funds raised are critical to allowing us to be there for young people 24/7."
Important facts about Kids Help Phone since COVID-19:
- Call volumes have sustained a new normal after two months of a sustained high volume since spike in mid-March
- Overall service increase since COVID-19:
- Up 63 per cent by text, and 55 per cent by phone
- Further increase in demand after tragic events in Nova Scotia
- Eating and body image continue to dominate conversations up 67 per cent since COVID-19.
- Predominately in Ontario and Toronto (+47 per cent since COVID-19)
- Quebec is experiencing relatively high reports of isolation
- Montreal specifically reporting more than 68 per cent of conversations focused on isolation since start of COVID-19
- Texting conversations about COVID-19 at 30 per cent
- 91 per cent quality score for professional counselling in April
Key Achievements of Kids Help Phone:
- Because of fundraising efforts and its partnership with BMO, Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone launched a pilot in February 2018; by November it was available nationally in English and French.
- In 2019, Kids Help Phone reached 1.9 million young people.
- Created the first support service in Canada to answer texts by severity versus chronology, ensuring youth-at-risk receive priority assistance.
"When COVID-19 made it clear we couldn't meet in person, we knew we had to find another way to continue to bring our employees and community together to fundraise for this important cause. The pivot to the dance-a-thon gives people a creative, fun way to virtually show their support for Kids Help Phone," said Karen Collins, Chief Talent Officer, BMO Financial Group and national co-host along side Dan Barclay. "Dust off your dancing shoes and join us, we'll see you on the virtual dance-floor on May 31st!"
Every dance helps. Register for the Never Dance Alone-a-thon powered by BMO and join us this Sunday, May 31st from 3-4 p.m. ET, where AIR MILES and Jessi Cruickshank will be hosting a Facebook Live event in support of Kids Help Phone, with musical performances by Walk Off The Earth, Blanco Brown and a special appearance by Kids Help Phone Ambassador and BMO employee, Matthew Ravida.
About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $987 billion as of April 30, 2020, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.
About Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is Canada's only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support in English and French to young people. As the country's virtual care expert, we give millions of youth a safe, trusted space to talk over phone and online chat or through text message with Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone in any moment of crisis or need. Through our digital transformation, we envision a future where every person in Canada is able to get the support they need, when they need it most and we have most recently realized that through Crisis Text Line Canada. This innovation is fueled by courageous donors, partners, volunteers and more. Learn more at KidsHelpPhone.ca or @KidsHelpPhone.
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SOURCE BMO Financial Group