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How young people are faring

It was a few months back when the Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) created and launched the Youth Impact Survey, a first of its kind in the country effort that asked youth aged 9 to 18 just how they were doing.

Launching it amid the COVID-19 pandemic made things a little more difficult, as answers given would be much different now than they may have otherwise been. Still, almost 300 young people completed surveys, and organizers are already beginning to sift through the data.

CYPT has released a second set of briefs, this time sharing information from four different topics –  physical health, learning, participating and free to play – that details in new ways how youth are faring in the region.

As expected, the surveys show a mixed bag of responses from participants, says Alison Pearson, manager, community engagement and planning with CYPT.

“It’s a bit of a different time period for young people in our community, I would say. Across these four additional domains we considered, we see that some kids are struggling. Some kids are experiencing vulnerabilities. We also know, however, some kids are doing well,” she said, noting part of the survey deals directly with the pandemic. “It asks about the impact of COVID-19, on their opportunities to participate in play and leisure activities. And so, we see six in 10 who are saying that because of COVID-19 restrictions, their participation has gone down a little or a lot. At the same time, we see two in 10 are saying it’s gone up a little or a lot.

It’s an interesting part of the story of the pandemic: it’s a very hard time for some and a better time for others.”

Pearson says what stood out for her most from the data is from the participating group of answers.

Two of the survey’s questions – one about managing responsibilities and the other about self-expression – are ones that can be compared to the national numbers. During the pandemic time, there is a significant difference between what youth in Waterloo Region are saying versus the Canadian average, said Pearson.

In some comparisons, there are cases where the difference is about 20 points between the impact survey stats versus the average.

To engage with youth, Pearson says there have been ‘sense making’ sessions, where young people can connect with CYPT via Instagram. The group is also connecting with organized groups of young people to discuss what they are seeing.

Of the 297 youth who participated in the Youth Impact Survey, 65.2 per cent were female, 31.4 per cent male, and 3.4 per cent chose to describe themselves as a different gender. Those aged 14, 15 and 17 were among the highest participating age groups. Some 90 per cent of participants lived in one of the major three cities, while 10.1 per cent were from the townships.

Six in 10 young people reported they feel some amount of pressure related to school, and 57.9 per cent of youth said they have very good or excellent physical health, a number that’s down significantly from the national average of 75.7 per cent.

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