By its second edition alone, the Children’s Walk, formerly known as AIDS Walk, already saw a remarkable increase from three to 60 sites! Employees walked globally and funds were donated to support orphaned children in Malawi and Mozambique affected by the AIDS crisis through local HIV/AIDS charities.
As we celebrate our 125-year anniversary, there is one aspect of our culture that has certainly contributed to our sustainability. Supporting our communities where we live and work. Beyond our purpose and commitment to doing now what patients need next, there is a deep desire from our employees to support others, especially children.
A testimony of this is our company’s biggest employee engagement and philanthropic event, the Children’s Walk. What started in 2003 as an employee pilot project in Basel, Nutley and Palo Alto to support orphaned children in Malawi, has now evolved into a global campaign embedded in our culture and cherished by employees.
The engagement went on in the following years, becoming a tradition. Every year, Roche employees gather in their affiliates to fundraise through fun activities, especially running or walking, but also dancing, painting or volunteering for a good cause. Typically, the date was set on the International Day of the African Child.
To make the impact even bigger, the company matches the employee donations. All of the funds raised through the Walk go to Roche Employee Action & Charity Trust—Re&Act, our independent global charity, and to local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in support of early childhood development and education efforts around the world. Thanks to our partnership with UNICEF alone, over 450,000 children have benefited from educational programmes across Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal and the Philippines.
When the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the world, Roche employees not only worked relentlessly to find ways out of the pandemic, but also kept the Children’s Walk tradition alive. In response to the gathering restrictions, the Walk was re-invented to include a wide range of innovative fundraising activities like plogging (a combination of jogging and picking up litter) in South Korea, volunteering at an orphanage in Côte d’Ivoire, ‘walking meeting’ challenges in Spain; virtual boxing workshops in Colombia; virtual art auctions in Brazil, among others.
Incredibly, the new normal did not slow us down. In 2020, a total of 135 sites held Children’s Walk events, a high number given the circumstances and compared to the 169 sites that took place pre-pandemic in 2019. And last year, we saw record participation with over 26,000 people taking part!
The Children’s Walk 2022 joined the 125 Roche Jubilee celebration. So far, 185 sites across 80 countries are registered to hold their activities. Many sites are taking it as an opportunity to come together in-person and come back to the office.
In Basel, Switzerland, the Children’s Walk was featured as part of the major street-festival-style two-day Jubilee celebration on the headquarters campus. In Algeria, an athletics stadium was closed for employees and families to have their run and jubilee celebration, closing a week of fundraising activities. In Indianapolis, USA, members of the Roche founding families, André Hoffmann and Jörg Duschmalé took part in the joint celebration and in Croatia, the Children’s Walk was a cosy event where the employees hosted children from their locally-supported NGO.
These are only a few examples of an idea which employees have been embracing for years—what better way to celebrate life than by supporting our communities.