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All Children and Youth Thrive!

New, comprehensive data on youth wellbeing in Halton

By Connor Clerke, OKN knowledge broker

In May and June 2021, more than 2500 youth participated in the Halton Youth Impact Survey. The results from the survey address an important gap in comprehensive data on how young people are doing across a range of indicators, including mental health, belonging, safety, and connections with their community.

Preliminary results were shared at a Youth Data Party in November 2021 with 44 young people leading a discussion on what the data means to them and how to mobilize the information to improve wellbeing in Halton. Participants shared ideas for taking action, from the community promoting a sense of belonging by helping youth feel at ease, to schools providing additional support for homework, resources for mental health and opportunities for connecting with others through clubs.

Explore new data

Now, the data is available for everyone to access in OKN’s Data Portal. With over 50 new indicators, you can now explore this new data to inform your work with children and youth. For example, did you know that only 3 in 10 Halton youth rate their mental health as very good or excellent? And while 63% of youth report at least one positive interaction in their community, 29% feel lonely. Mental health is so important to a young person’s development and affects the way we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. How can we support young people struggling with their mental health and sense of belonging? The data will help center youth voices so that programs and services intended for young people are responsive to their specific needs and experiences.

In addition to exploring a wide range of indicators, the Data Portal allows users to make comparisons across different geographies in Halton. This can help identify gaps in services, or programs to learn from. For example, how do youth rate their school experience in North East Oakville compared to South Central Milton? In what communities do youth experience higher levels of belonging? Are there linkages between sense of belonging and access to community services such as libraries and recreation? The map below highlights the sample size of the survey for the different neighborhoods of Halton. Explore the Data Portal to make your own comparisons to better understand the gaps and opportunities for serving youth in our community.

What next?

In the coming months, the OKN team will be rolling out a knowledge translation plan to turn the new, comprehensive data into community action. Our goal is to generate awareness about how young people are doing across a range of indicators, inform evidence-based decision-making that will support young people, and mobilize community action to improve the wellbeing of youth in Halton.

Beginning in March, we will be publishing a series of data action bulletins focusing on the Halton 7. The data action bulletins will summarize key findings in an accessible format with questions to help guide discussion and action at your organization. Do the findings support your programs or policies, or identify gaps in programs or services? In what ways can we develop and foster youth connectedness? How can we work together to build strong community belonging with youth?

The Halton Youth Impact Survey collected comprehensive demographic data that will provide important information on how youth with different backgrounds, abilities, and identities understand their sense of wellbeing. What are the important differences experienced by those living with a disability or those with a gender identity other than male or female? How do newcomer, non-binary, Indigenous and white youth rate their levels of stress, family connections and community safety? And how can we ensure all youth are included in our programs, services, and policies?

The data action bulletins will be accompanied by a series of public events to share findings and facilitate discussion among young people, educators, service providers, policy-makers, and others across Halton. Everyone working with youth has a role to play and no matter your area of work, there is data to inform how to support young people.

In the second half of 2022, OKN will publish a final report, bringing together all the key findings from the survey, providing a comprehensive community profile of youth wellbeing in Halton.

We look forward to connecting with partners across Halton and working together to improve youth wellbeing in our community. To explore the data now, visit the OKN Data Portal and share on your social channels how you plan to use the data with the hashtag #HaltonYouthDataAction. To receive the latest updates on events and reports, sign up for the OKN newsletter.

Let’s work together to see all children and youth thrive!

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Youth Impact Ambassadors facilitate discussions around key data from the Halton Youth Impact Survey

By Lily Viggiano, former Halton Youth Initiative Project Coordinator

On Tuesday November 30, 2021, several Youth Impact Ambassadors facilitated discussions with other youth in Halton regarding key elements, or ‘data sparks’, from the Halton Youth Impact Survey. During the virtual Data Party, attended by nearly 50 youth, we learned more about relationships and youth mental health in presentations shared by the Research team at Our Kids Network (OKN).

We brainstormed suggestions, shared stories, and discussed how youth and adults could take action to make Halton a better place for all. We listened to the youth as they processed the data that they had received for the first time. We heard their recommendations for tackling key challenges such as mental health and sense of belonging. These reflections will help OKN’s Research team enhance the data statistics as they prepare them to be used by Halton professionals in their work.

HYI meeting screen shot

Sharing thoughts  

By Leah Minkovich, Halton Youth Impact Survey ambassador and data party guest

This was the first time since working as a Youth Impact Survey ambassador that I had a chance to see the survey results. I was both surprised and disappointed. The results were what I expected, reflecting on the feelings of isolation that I personally, along with the youth I had talked to, were feeling. But to see that I was right, and that mental health had dropped substantially among youth during the pandemic was a disappointment. The registrants in my group echoed similar thoughts. For some, this was what they were expecting, but there were quite a few who were caught completely off guard.

We were able to have an incredibly meaningful conversation about the reasons behind these results, as well as what could be done about them. Many of the registrants had similar ideas about school being the best opportunity for change. Ideas such as extra homework help, a greater variety of clubs, and being more open about mental health were discussed.

From conversation to action

By Shrena Sribalan, Halton Youth Impact Survey ambassador and data party guest

Since the pandemic started, I’ve been to a lot of online events of a similar sort. However, nothing compares to the excitement and passion that burst through my screen on the night of the OKN Halton Youth Impact Survey’s Data Party! As a Halton Youth Impact ambassador, it was so nice to see that we reached so many different young people and that hard work paid off. Seeing the data left me with mixed feelings. It showed me where we must grow as a community and what we are doing well at already.

The best part by far was when we got to deliberate our thoughts in breakout rooms. It was so nice to have meaningful conversations with people who care about issues I care about. It felt like I had known these people forever. Together, we proposed various solutions directed at various community stakeholders whether it be the municipality, the government, the school boards, and even ourselves. I hope that our thoughts get translated to the right people to ensure the voices of youth are heard and a plan of action is set.

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The results are in: What do Halton youth have to say about their wellbeing?

By Connor Clerke, OKN knowledge broker

In May and June 2021, Our Kids Network, in collaboration with UNICEF Canada, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Medivae Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, launched the Halton Youth Impact Survey. The survey was piloted in Halton, Waterloo, Ottawa and Digby, Nova Scotia to better understand the wellbeing of youth in Canada with the aim of rolling it out across the country.

The survey provides an important opportunity for us to understand how young people are doing across a range of indicators based on OKN’s Halton 7. The survey was informed by a series of youth engagements during the design and implementation phase to ensure youth voices are centered in how the community responds to the needs of young people in Halton.

…our peer-to-peer engagement strategy was developed in partnership with the Halton Youth Initiative through youth labs, community meetings and the creation of our Halton Youth Impact Ambassador team…

Liz Wells, Our Kids Network research and knowledge broker.

Read the full blog.

Youth Ambassadors hosted events for peers, made videos and spoke with local reporters about the importance of hearing directly from youth during these difficult times.

The results are in

Thanks to Halton youth, parents, community partners and everyone who shared the survey with young people, more than 2500 youth between 9 and 18 years of age shared their voice through the Halton Youth Impact Survey.

The results provide new, in-depth, Halton-wide data about how our young people are doing on a range of indicators including physical and mental health, food security, bullying and discrimination, connection to community, and much more. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey also provides much-needed information about how young people are coping with changes to their school, home and social lives, and insights on what Halton organizations can do to support youth.

What information do YOU need to support youth?

The comprehensive survey asked more than 30 questions, providing us with responses to questions about anxiety, safety, the environment, activism, school life, friends, bullying, substance use, housing and much more.

What are the key priorities for youth in Halton? Where are they facing challenges and where are the opportunities to support the development of healthy, connected young people?

In addition to questions about individual experiences, we also asked youth to specify their personal characteristics to help us understand how the intersections of race, gender, ability, nationality and other characteristics impact their well-being.

What do youth want us to know about their mental wellbeing? How many youth feel supported by their peers, family and community? What important differences are experienced by Indigenous or newcomer youth in our communities?

How are the youth that YOU serve doing?

Now that we have heard from the youth in Halton, what information does YOUR organization need to better support the youth in your network? And how will YOU use the data to improve programs and services for young people in Acton, Burlington, Georgetown, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville?

 

From research to action

Now that the results are in, we at OKN are excited to share the new, comprehensive data with community partners across Halton. In the coming months, we will be organizing youth data parties, launch events and presentations for partners in Halton. The data will also be uploaded to the OKN Data Portal so that you can explore, analyze and utilize the data to support the work of your organization.

If you would like to learn more about using the OKN Data Portal, join our virtual introductory workshop on November 9th.

When the survey was launched, our community partners shared how they planned to use the data. Many partners committed to better understand the needs of children and youth in order to plan and implement effective programs and services.

Social and Community Services at Halton Region are planning to compare the data with existing early years data to understand the relationship between early years and older youth in order to help local governments plan programs and services. The Oakville Public Library hopes to understand what volunteer opportunities are important to youth and how to ensure they are accessible to all. For the Halton Multicultural Centre, the survey will provide important information about how to create programs that provide a warm introduction to newcomer youth. And the Milton Community Resource Centre will use the data to understand the specific needs of girls in our community to help inform their She Can! Girls Empowerment Program.

What will YOU do with the data?

Building Indigenous Literacy Through Credible Resources

By Wendy Einwechter, Our Kids Network Indigenous Reconciliation initiative summer student

 

Introduction by Angela Bellegarde, Our Kids Network Indigenous lead

Our curated website section, Increase Your Indigenous Literacy, can be a first step on your journey to learn the Truth, making Reconciliation actions more meaningful. OKN staff are committed to ensuring that the information provided for Halton professionals is relevant and beneficial, from documentary videos on political relationships such as Dancing Around the Table Part 1 and Part 2 to suggestions on how you can write your own evocative Territorial Acknowledgement, and much more.

In her blog about researching content for the website, OKN Indigenous Reconciliation Initiative summer student, Wendy Einwechter, writes about the plethora of misinformation about Indigenous culture, history and traditions found on the internet and how the facts often must be uncovered and verified. She shares useful approaches and tips to ensure credibility and integrity when searching content online.

Buried Treasure-The Challenges of Online Research

As the OKN Indigenous Reconciliation initiative summer student, one of my responsibilities was to search online for credible, verifiable Indigenous resources for the OKN website Indigenous Literacy section. While doing my research, I was reminded of the “Telephone Game” that we all played as children, where as a phrase is whispered from person to person it becomes more and more distorted to the point of being completely different when it reaches the last person.  I wasn’t surprised at discovering biased and opinionated information and misinformation in my research, but what did surprise me was just how much there is on the topics of Indigenous culture, history and education. I could see that finding reliable sources would be challenging, so I approached this work with a critical and Indigenous viewpoint.

Mining for Integrity

I worked closely with Angela Bellegarde, OKN’s Indigenous lead to develop criteria and an approach to ensure that any new content would meet the standards of the OKN Indigenous literacy website section.  When I found information that I thought was relevant, I would spend time digging deeper into that resource. This sometimes  was very time-consuming depending on the media source or social channels such as You Tube or Instagram.  After viewing the resource, I would then research the person or organization for verification.

When researching a person or organization, I looked for credentials and proof of their expertise on the topic. I would also look for other published work or contributions that they may have made elsewhere. Often, I would mine their own resources to understand how and where they arrived at their conclusions. I also considered whether they are Indigenous or non-Indigenous and their specific ties to the Indigenous community.

Personal, Professional, Unconscious Biases can Throw Research off the Path

I was mindful of being overly critical and of my own personal and professional, or even unconscious, biases that could inhibit decisions on which content to accept or reject. Achieving a discerning balance considering source, verification, and credentials was the key to finding the “treasure” often buried in unlikely content.

This work spanned June to the end of August and the results are now being reviewed and edited. The content will be added to the OKN website in late fall. While the website is a resource for all Halton professionals who work with children, youth and families, these new resources may most greatly benefit non-Indigenous people who are looking for information that may help them on their journey to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

OKN Indigenous Literacy Resources

Wellbeing: What does it mean to YOU?

Introduction
As a member of the Halton Youth Impact Survey Ambassador team, 13 year-old Diya Deepu chairs the Communications Committee and helps plan promotions for the survey. In the blog below, she shares her thoughts on what wellbeing means to her and is encouraging other young people to do the survey to improve life for youth in Halton. Please share her blog widely in your networks of children, youth and families. – Beth Williams, Communications Manager, Our Kids Network

 

Diya Deepu

Wellbeing: What does it mean to YOU?

By Diya Deepu, Halton Youth Impact Survey Ambassador, Our Kids Network

Wellbeing is the quality of life that we have. It depends on if it’s positive or negative, and it all only matters on how WE see it. We all have different views on positive wellbeing, but it all joins into one root — happiness!

To me, it means to be happy and have that sense of satisfaction in my life. It’s the ability to be with the people I love and care about. But, wellbeing isn’t only about our mental health, it also includes our physicality too. These are two components of wellbeing that we should not separate, since both work together for each other’s good. Without good physical wellbeing, our mental health may go down, and without positive mental wellbeing, our physical health may go down.

We should be proud of the people we are today and should not let any obstacles stop us. This pandemic has changed our lives drastically this past two years, and I want you to know that you’re NOT ALONE in this battle. This is something new for all of us, and we’re all in this together!

So, here’s something for you to reflect on, what does wellbeing mean to you?

The Halton Youth Impact Survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation. Results will be available later this year.

Halton needs comprehensive, local data about child and youth wellbeing

By Elisabeth Wells, PhD, Our Kids Network Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager

The Halton Youth Impact Survey is our opportunity to understand how our young people are doing, and how decision-makers can support young people in our communities.

Halton was invited to participate in the UNICEF Canada Child & Youth Wellbeing Survey (Halton Youth Impact Survey), supported by UNICEF Canada, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Medivae Foundation, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Halton is one of four communities participating in this project, which will be used to develop a national index of child and youth wellbeing. OKN is leading the implementation of the survey here in Halton and helping UNICEF build a survey that will be used across Canada.

Important NEW data

Our community has been facing a gap in comprehensive, local data about child and youth wellbeing. The Halton Youth Impact Survey provides an opportunity for OKN and Halton to collect and share new, quality, local data and evidence to support the delivery of programs, services, policies and initiatives that are critical to the wellbeing of children, youth and families in Halton.

The survey is for children between 9 and 18 years-old. It measures key factors related to child and youth development and wellbeing, such as connection to family, schools, community and peers, physical and mental health, participation in extracurricular activities, safety and leisure, and risk behaviours such as smoking and drug use.

OKN is deeply committed to making data free and accessible to anyone who wants to use it. We will use the data to support the needs of all of our community partners working with young people. We expect to start sharing the results back with the community in late Fall through various learning events, reports, webinars, workshops, community presentations and in the data portal. Not only will we be sharing the results, but we will be providing tools and resources to help professionals access and use the results to support their work.

By the community, for the community

We built this survey with you and for you. The survey content, and the promotional strategy, have largely been developed by our community partners. Over the last few months, we reached out and met with numerous professionals and youth to ensure your voices are at the center of the project. Through these meetings, we heard loud and clear about how our community partners are supporting youth engagement, and how critical it is to have new data about youth wellbeing. Read about how our community partners are planning to use the results from the survey!

Peer-to-peer

There are just over 76,000 youth in Halton between 9 and 18 years of age. My goal is to hear from as many of our young people as possible. We need many diverse youth voices from across Halton to participate so we can learn what life is like for youth right now. We have 27 different neighbourhoods in Halton, and we know that each community is unique. That’s why we want to hear from youth across Halton – tell us about your community and what wellbeing means to you in Acton, East Milton, South East Oakville or Aldershot, for example. We want all youth to have a strong voice in the project so that, ultimately, they will have a strong voice in the programs, services and initiatives that impact them in their communities.

To help us do that, our peer-to-peer engagement strategy was developed in partnership with the Halton Youth Initiative through youth labs, community meetings and the creation of our Halton Youth Impact Ambassador team. Youth are promoting the survey in their own networks, and our team Ambassadors are leading this campaign.A vector silhouette illustration of a large group of young adults and children coloured in a vibrant rainbow.

Make an IMPACT! Help us get the word out!

The campaign runs until Monday, June 14. As a professional working with children and youth in Halton, we know you want to have a positive impact on the lives of young people in our communities. You can make a difference by encouraging youth in your networks to do the survey and have a say in matters that effect them. The Community Partner Promotional Kit is full of information about the survey and resources to use in promoting it.

The Halton Youth Impact Survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation. Results will be available later this year.