Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a business imperative. It has evolved from something that some companies considered, to something that all companies think about. It is about everyone being the best citizens that they can, and that includes corporate citizens.
At Canada Dry Mott’s, being a positive corporate citizen is important to us from a business and community standpoint. Caring about our consumers, our customers, our employees and our neighbours in the communities where we live and work is at the heart of our business. That means taking positive action to continually improve the way we operate, with the interests of others in mind.
As one of Canada’s leading beverage companies, we understand that a healthy, balanced lifestyle is critical to wellness. We believe that for our children, this healthy balanced lifestyle needs to include play. However, we know that play is disappearing from the lives of today’s children at a concerning rate. Today’s kids spend less time playing outside than any previous generation. In part this is because only one in five children actually lives within walking distance of a playground or park. It’s also due to the fact that we live in a digital society where kids enjoy playing video games, surfing the web and watching TV, all of which takes them away from good old fashioned play.
The benefits of play
According to Statistics Canada, 87 per cent of Canadian children do not meet physical activity guidelines for optimal growth and development. This lack of play has serious consequences, including health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and chronic diseases including cancer. The benefits of play are endless and include decreased stress, increased energy, increased creativity and social activity. The best part is that kids who are active are more likely to maintain those habits as adults. This means as a society we should be encouraging play as often as possible.
At Canada Dry Mott’s, our goal is to ensure children have a safe place to play, and to help families stay active by providing the tools, places and inspiration to make play something to look forward to every day.
That’s why in 2010, with our parent company Dr Pepper Snapple Group, we launched Let’s Play, a $15-million, three-year commitment to KaBOOM!, a non-profit that is dedicated to ensuring there is a great place to play within walking distance of every child. Together, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Let’s Play will help communities by building new playgrounds, or updating existing playgrounds, so that by the end of 2013 we will have built or fixed at least 2,000 playgrounds, benefiting an estimated five million children across North America. We see this as a very valuable program, and have been part of its development and implementation since the pilot program in 2009.
In September 2011 we held a playground build in Etobicoke, Ont. In just six hours more than 200 volunteers from Canada Dry Mott’s and Toronto Community Housing Corporation, along with community members and organizers from KaBOOM!, built a completely new playground in a townhouse community. The playground filled a previously grim dirt patch with a colourful play space complete with monkey bars, a rock climbing wall, an adventure bridge and a spiral slide. Every kid’s dream!
While aligning with our corporate mission, this playground build also brought together Canada Dry Mott’s employees. Outside of the office, people from different departments and different regions came together with a shared goal, allowing us to make a community – and our company – a little better.
I strongly believe that Let’s Play is a leading example of business working hand in hand with community citizenship, and I look forward to the continued opportunities it presents to us at Canada Dry Mott’s, to our partners at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and to the beverage industry as a whole. We will continue to raise the bar with our CSR efforts and encourage other corporate citizens to do the same.
Andrew Bayfield is senior vice-president of Canada Dry Mott’s and Mott’s Snapple International.
PICTURE (Above, left to right) Andrew Bayfield, senior vice-president, Canada Dry Mott’s, and Len Koroneos, Toronto Community Housing’s CEO (interim), stand in front of a brand new, safe playground built by more than 200 volunteers in just six hours in Etobicoke’s West Mall community.