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All Children and Youth Thrive!

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?

Do you work with youth? Learn about the Halton Youth Initiative Model!

By Siobhan Laverdiere, Halton Youth Initiative Coordinator, and Lily Viggiano, Youth Asset-Builder

The Halton Youth Initiative (HYI) completed its second year at the end of 2020. At this point, we wanted to share with Our Kids Network and the Halton professional community, the valuable knowledge and insight that we, and our colleagues and community partners, have gained. Practical resources, programming ideas, and approaches to engaging youth can all be found on the HYI website. And as HYI leaders, we’re both available for consultations regarding youth programming and engagement. Contact us at siobhan@ourkidsnetwork.ca or lily@ourkidsnetwork.ca.

As HYI begins its third year, we look forward to even more community connections and partnerships that will play a role in sustaining this important work in the future.

Siobhan and Lily

Youth Voices Matter in North Oakville! 

It all started with the slogan Youth Voices Matter in North Oakville!  The idea was to elevate youth voice and empower youth to have a positive impact in the neighbourhood of North Oakville.

Since 2017 those youth voices have grown louder and louder to include the Acton, Aldershot and Milton neighbourhoods. Today our 94 (and growing) youth volunteers’ thoughts, opinions, ideas and creativity can be found on the HYI website and across social media channels, HYI blogs, podcasts, YouTube , and associated Instagram pages such as @miltonactionteam @youthaldershot @sevensomebodies @northoakYDC.

Website as a Forum for Youth and a Resource for Professionals

The HYI website is packed with information about the activities of HYI over the past 2 years. It includes so many stories that reveal what youth learned and felt as they expressed their views about tough topics such as mental health, Developmental Relationships, and Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation in blogs and podcasts.

Professionals who work with youth will find the HYI website useful for information on program planning, ideas on youth engagement and leadership, as a practical community development model, and much more.

Info & Links resources on mental health and developmental assets, description of the adult ally role and the 2018 results of the Youth Voices Matter in North Oakville survey

Events archived database of community and youth events from 2017 to present.

Youth Council information descriptions of each of the four youth councils prior to transitioning to virtual teams post-COVID

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive special resources and information.

Put Developmental Relationships at the Centre of your Work with Youth 

HYI’s success with youth engagement is founded on the five elements of the Developmental Relationships (DR) framework: Expressing Care; Challenging Growth; Providing Support; Sharing Power; and Expanding Possibilities. When we center our work on relationships, all the rest seems to fall into place.

As you explore the website, we encourage you to view it through the lens of DR and consider the positive effects of youth working with adults (while the adults demonstrate one or more of the five elements of the DR framework). We believe this approach has made a significant difference in the motivation and enthusiasm of HYI young people to become actively involved in their community (currently virtually). Some even take on leadership roles. If you haven’t already, consider putting Developmental Relationships at the centre of your organization’s work.

 “At the Halton Youth Initiative, we are avid participants who empathize and advocate for the empowerment of ourselves as youth and for others in the community. We are inspired by the voices we are bringing to youth around Halton and the happiness we can bring into people’s lives.”

Angela, HYI youth volunteer

Partner Support is the Key to Engaging Youth in the Community

Welcoming caring community partners into the work of HYI has also been pivotal to our success. These agencies and organizations are stakeholders in the community who want to be involved with HYI other than as adult allies. We hope to welcome even more exceptional partners in the future.

Community partners provide support to HYI youth councils by:

  • building connections between the youth council and their organizations (generating awareness about the youth council and related activities, advocating for youth mentorship opportunities, and increasing youth Developmental Assets).
  • promoting the initiative in the community.
  • encouraging and welcoming youth in the community.
  • participating on subcommittees or workgroups.
  • providing in-kind resources.
  • attending meetings as a guest occasionally, as invited by youth members.

The Halton Youth Initiative partners below have made a world of difference to the youth members over the past 2 years. Thank you!

Special thanks to Pat Howell-Blackmore of PHBSpark Consulting, and Josh Taylor-Detlor, Indigenous Environmental & Youth Engagement Consultant, for their dedication and ongoing support.

Footnote:
Our Kids Network provides management and administrative services to the Halton Youth Initiative which is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.