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Wellbeing survey show region’s youth lag averages

It was four months ago when the Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) launched the Youth Impact Survey (YIS), a first of its kind in the country, aimed at getting information directly from young people between the ages of 9 and 18.

Working with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo, UNICEF Canada, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the survey was developed to align with the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being – a framework developed by UNICEF Canada – to better understand the lives of children and youth. The goal is to track progress for youth wellbeing and help guide changes that can be made to help those facing challenges in Canada.

Some 300 youth from Waterloo Region participated in the survey, giving feedback on their state of wellbeing.

The latest set of results cover their input on four topics: “we are connected to the environment,” “we are protected,” “we are secure,” and “we are happy and respected.”

Alison Pearson, manager of community engagement and planning with CYPT, says the new data – much like the data from the other six focus areas – show that the youth of Waterloo Region are not doing as well as they’d like.

“In a lot of cases, though not all, but in a lot of cases where we have a Canadian stat to compare to, again Waterloo Region during this time of COVID is faring less well. So two [statistics] that were standing out to me were the reports of young people experiencing homelessness or hidden homelessness. About one in 10 respondents (10.8 per cent) indicated that they have had that experience, versus 3.8 per cent in Canada as a whole. I just noticed that as a higher number than I expected to see,” said Pearson.

Another statistic that stood out to her came from the section “we are happy and respected,” which shows that almost two in 10 respondents (18.3 per cent) reported finding most days quite a bit or extremely stressful. The national comparison number comes in at 12.5 per cent.

To garner more information from youth, CYPT has been – and will continue to hold sense making opportunities with young people. Pearson says through the month of December there are plans to host two or three sessions virtually with youth to gain more insight from them on their wellbeing and the survey.

She says they also plan to disaggregate the data over the next few months so they can further break down the information from subgroups of youth.

Starting in spring 2021, the YIS will roll out an enhanced version for more youth to give their feedback. Pearson says in addition to getting feedback from Waterloo Region youth, two other communities will take part. At this time the other two communities are currently not known, however, the hope is to get more information – including allowing communities to tailor questions to get specific information from youth in the region.

This information comes from youth from various backgrounds, genders and ages across the region. In total, 89.9 per cent of respondents were from one of the region’s three cities, while 10.1 per cent lived in one of the four townships.

For more information or to take part in the sessions, visit the website.

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