The RbD Lab at Royal Roads University recently launched a two-year, youth-focused research project in Wood Buffalo entitled “Youth Voices Rising.” YVR is designed to amplify and promote young people’s ideas for recovery from the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. As an initial outreach to young people age 14-24, the RbD Lab and Meicholas Art Foundation hosted an Ideas Incubator that engaged youth in the design and implementation of a youth-driven social media campaign to be launched in the Fall. The campaign will center on the question “If you had all the power, how would you make life better in your community?”; and the answers young people share through photos, videos and other story mediums will help illuminate youth-centred visions for Wood Buffalo’s recovery and rebuilding. The concerns, ideas and conversations the campaign sparks will form the basis of the project moving forward over the coming year.
The young people and supportive adults at the Ideas Incubator workshop, decided on the YouthVoicesWB campaign name, identified the most relevant social media platforms for Wood Buffalo youth, and brainstormed various creative methods that youth might use as part of the campaign (e.g., video, art, poetry, music, etc.).
The Youth Voice Rising project, funded by the Canadian Red Cross, is designed to work alongside Wood Buffalo youth to explore where youth voices are already being heard, and where they think youth voice could be stronger in recovery planning. “We’ve found after other disasters that young people have often lacked the power and official channels to share their perspectives, concerns and ideas. Because of this, they can remain an underrepresented stakeholder in the recovery process despite strong evidence on the benefits to communities who actively engage youth in decision-making,” Dr. Robin Cox, RbD Lab Director, said. “However, when given opportunities, youth can actively contribute to their own recovery and to the recovery of those people and places around them.”