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What can Prince George learn from the World Happiness Report?

What can Prince George learn from the World Happiness Report? Recently the “2024 World Happiness Report” was issued by the World Population Review Organization.
Happy Children
Happy Children

What can Prince George learn from the World Happiness Report?

Recently the “2024 World Happiness Report” was issued by the World Population Review Organization.  The purpose of this annual report is to review the measuring and understanding of well-being, and to track the quality of lives as they are being lived in 150 countries.

Northern European countries once again dominated the top of the happiness rankings, reflecting strong social support systems, quality of life, and high standards of living.

But one country stands out amongst the top five happiest countries.  That country is the State of Israel which, for the sixth year in a row, has been ranked as one of the top 10 happiest countries, despite the conflict taking place there.

In 2024, Canada ranked as number 15. The USA? Number 23, the first time ever dropping out of the top 20 list.

When you read the Under 30 survey results in the report, Israeli young adults scored the number two position. Canada’s young adults? Spot number 58. Could it be that in Israel, the main task of educators of those from ages 6 to 12 is to teach children to communicate with each other, instill a love of learning and unleash the creative potential of each individual?  While in Canada, often our young people’s lives are inundated with messaging and social media predicting that their future is all doom and gloom?

Here at home in Prince George, my perception is that many young people are feeling less and less content and are experiencing ever-increasing anxiety and uncertainty about their future.

What are some things that we can focus on here that can help address this?

I think continuing to invest in arts, culture and educational enrichment is the best path forward.

There needs to be funding for elementary school teachers to bus their students to our fantastic public library at least once per month. Access to books, information, youth programs, intellectual pursuits and knowledge are important key factors for young people to grow into being emotionally healthy, well-balanced individuals.

I also believe strongly in children and youth being supported to participate in art, music, dance, creative writing, or acting classes. These experiences do wonders for improving the expression and communication skills of young people, skills they cannot develop through spending an excessive amount of time on social media. 

As well, these activities provide a tremendous boost to dignity, confidence, and self-esteem. Arts activities are the perfect complement to sporting activities aiding in the development of healthy bodies with a healthy mind and spirit.

I am confident that with a real, collective effort amongst our community to expand the enrichment options for our children, we will come to see a drop in the number of young adults with mental and emotional health problems. I believe this will also lead to less substance misuse and addiction as our children become young adults.

Although we may not be able to move Canada up the Happiest Countries rankings, we can improve the happiness of our community.  It starts by investing in our children. 

When those in public office are next asking for our feedback for what our community needs, we should be asking for a better future for our children.  We should be asking them to invest in youth programs and opportunities that will improve their quality of life and improve our community’s happiness.

Eli Klasner is a Prince George writer.