We work on a project called Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF), based out of Whitehorse, Yukon. The project is going into its second year. Our Partnership Table decided to include youth differently by hiring six youth as CBYF Interns. As interns, we work with our project manager to complete research and tasks within the project. CBYF hired us in November, and since then, we have concluded a weekend of training, contributed to partnership meetings on a bi-weekly basis and have completed a research project.
We used two different methods for our research process: an interview format and an online survey. For the online survey, we came up with seven long-answer questions that covered the area of our focus. We made the survey anonymous to increase the amount of youth willing to contribute their input and to give us an idea of what young people in the Yukon need. We posted the survey link onto social media such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. For the interview format, we asked for any individuals who were comfortable speaking about the main priorities of the project to share their experiences. We were able to accumulate divergent views from each individual that was interviewed.
The follow-up for our research was a written report; the interns wrote reports relaying the information gathered through surveys and interviews. We broke down the data collected and wrote about the input and experiences that youth shared. We created graphs to show some of our information. Finally, we finished it off with a conclusion paragraph. All the reports written were gathered, added to our common agenda and created into a joint report.
What did we learn through our research:
- Most youths want to be engaged in conversations surrounding all the significant issues that adults and leaders speak about.
- Youth want to speak about Racism, the Education System, Youth Safety, Climate Change and Health Care issues, including Mental Health and Wellness.
- Youth want to be engaged through workshops, surveys, conversations, social media, and schools but most importantly. What’s important to remember when doing outreach with youth, is building trust.
- Younger people are more likely to be engaged and contribute when speaking to adults or peers they trust.
Our youth-led approach started with noticing the issues that youth face and our want to be a part of making a change. We wanted to support young people in many stages but mainly in the decision-making process - meaning they get to be heard. Youth play an important role within the development of our society and they are our future leaders. These issues such as mental health, education, youth safety and youth-led decision making were recognized for years but nothing seemed to be happening in order to address them. This internship opened up a door for us to be heard and for us to speak for the youth and share what they need. We hold hope that the future of our country and community will become welcoming for youth voices, not only as a token taken seriously to create change. If anything is to be taken from our experience working on this project it is that youth are beneficial; they hold knowledge, opinions and skills that can bring new light to our society when facilitated correctly.