Survey results released this week by the Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) of Waterloo Region paint a picture of lower overall wellbeing among those between the ages of 9 and 18.
The first of its kind in the country, the survey was launched a couple of months ago to discover what young people see as important in their lives, the better to prepare future programming aimed at that demographic.
More than 300 participants responded to questions covering nine focus areas of wellbeing. The data can now provide a firsthand account of how youth in Waterloo Region are doing.
CYPT this week released two briefs of preliminary data, sharing their findings with partner organizations and the community. The group chose to release information on each of the nine focus areas – with health being broken up into two parts – to showcase all information with as much detail as possible.
Alison Pearson, the organization’s manager of community engagement and planning, says the survey and data shows numbers that are on par with national ones released by UNICEF.
“Young people really value talking about their wellbeing, and these results can be a conversation starter for any of us in the community with young people that we engage with. I would like to emphasize that a number of young people have said how appreciative they are of being asked about their wellbeing,” said Pearson.
Data analyzed thus far show that youth are struggling, she said. Comparing the data to the national numbers – which is very difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic – 37.6 per cent (almost four in 10) of youth said they have very good or excellent mental health. This is down significantly from prior years of national numbers, which came in at almost eight in 10.
How much of a role the current COVID-19 crisis played in shifting the numbers remains up in the air, requiring more analysis, Pearson added.
While some of the local numbers were on par with national trends, Pearson says one statistic that surprised her was those who experienced discrimination in the past year, with 44.5 per cent reporting occurrences. The top five aspects of discrimination were physical appearance, sex, age, ethnicity and race.
With the success of the pilot project, there are already plans to run the survey again in 2021. The next one will include more communities in the province.
“So, the idea in a phase two that we’re currently working towards would be [using this survey in] our community again, with a handful of other communities as well. I’m not sure yet who those other communities will be, but it’s a chance for more communities to try this survey out; we can learn more about how it works as a tool, and potentially other refinements to the tool before it rolls out to all of Canada,” Pearson said.
To help gain more information on the survey, Pearson says there are plans to hold meetings with partner organizations and youth in the near future. She says youth from the community, especially ones who took part in the survey, can take part in the upcoming meetings by emailing her at APearson@regionofwaterloo.ca.
The first two briefs released on the Children and Youth Planning Table website today cover mental and emotional health, and belonging. Disaggregated data will also be released, in addition to the eight additional briefs over the coming weeks.
More information can be found online.