Talk to Me, Play with Me, Carry Me Public Awareness Campaign

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Joshua Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Joshua Rodriguez

We spoke with Kailey Erickson, who is excited to share a community-wide public safety campaign which has been developed by Langley Infant Mental Health collaborative that includes representation from a variety of community organizations.

The messaging has been designed to highlight some of the current concerns with parental over-use of technology as well as over-use of baby equipment and the impact that both can have on the mental health and overall development of infants.  This is accomplished by showing the non-preferred behavior (in black and white imagery) in contrast to the preferred behavior (in full colour imagery).

The campaign includes several components, all with the key messaging of Talk to Me, Play with Me, Carry Me - #mywellbeingstartswithyou.

The campaign has launched with distribution of a poster designed in partnership with the BC Pediatric Society, throughout the community:  at community centres, health units, Strong Starts, Early Years Centres, Family Physician and Pediatrician offices, child care centres, Family Resource programs, Child Development Centres and any other location where families gather.  The organizers are now in the process of expanding the campaign piece to other communities.

Starting in May, 2018, with its launch at a community Baby Day event timed to align with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day , a free baby bandana will be provided to all local families who have babies 12 months and under.  The bandana, designed with the messaging sublimated into the fabric, will be distributed through the Langley Memorial Hospital maternity clinic before discharge home with their new baby as well as through the partner organizations and community events.  An information card will be added to the bandana providing more information about the messaging and linking parents to appropriate resources.

A 90-second brand story video highlighting three families interacting with their infants has been created and launched.   This video, presented in a child’s voice and showing a child’s perspective during the “non-preferred” interaction, is contrasted with the child’s perspective during the preferred way.  The video is designed help extend the reach of the campaign and has already been picked up nationally and internationally; it is being shared actively on social media in the US and also in Europe.  Attachment Parenting International have posted it on their Facebook page saying, “Thank you, Langley Infant Mental Health Collaborative, for this beautiful and important message we need to remember.”   As well as being shared through social media, it is being made available to play (with or without audio) in waiting rooms of physician offices, in community centres and other locations where parents would visit.  The video can be found here:

 The hashtag #mywellbeingstartswithyou is linked to the poster and video, and is on the bandana, to help build awareness and extend the reach of the campaign.

The public awareness campaign will be the focus of the 1st Annual Langley Baby Day, a joint initiative funded by Langley School District and coordinated through the Langley Children’s Committee and Langley Early Years Centre.  This free event is designed to reach families with babies born in 2017 and 2018 to provide them with information and resources related to “Talk to me, Play with me, Carry me - #mywellbeingstartswithyou”.  The event will include community booths, a marketplace and short presentations for families and caregivers.  Langley Baby Day is scheduled for Monday, May 7 – National Child and Youth Mental Health Day.  Registration through Eventbrite.

The community has committed to providing numerous training opportunities for parents, frontline staff, management and municipal leaders, all of which help to deepen the community’s understanding of mental health and what we can do to encourage optimal well-being.  These opportunities include:

Feedback from a range of families has been incorporated into the design of the campaign.  Special attention was taken to keep the messaging positive so that families do not feel any shame or blame.  Written material has been designed to be easily understood by those with lower literacy levels.

The project began after a two day mental health collaborative round table session with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and coordinated by the Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMPH) team based out of Toronto Sick Kids Hospital.  Funding was generously provided by the Ministry for Children and Family Development to cover the costs associated with the creation of the video and bandanas.  There are numerous opportunities to expand this messaging in the future including the creation of board books, t-shirts for older children, adaptation of the message to include “read to me”, etc.

Kailey commented on the importance of securing one-time funding to the development of the project.  They were then able to leverage from this to obtain further community support.  A significant outcome has been the engagement of the local School District in the project, who have committed to hosting and funding the Baby Day Event on an annual basis.

Kailey would love to see other communities replicate the learning from the Langley group’s process and be encouraged to see that it is a real possibility for groups of community organizations to come together to take on and carry through a large-scale project such as this.