It has been evident for years that climate change has increased both the occurrence and the severity of natural hazard related disasters such as floods, storms, and wildfires. This 2017 research project explored the role of youths’ connection to place when confronted with a climate change related disaster and how best to support youth, their families and community during the disaster recovery process.
The results of natural hazard related disasters cause great suffering due to economic, physical, social, and psychological losses. Children and youth are among those most vulnerable to these stresses.
This multi-year research project investigated the strategies employed by youth to cope with disaster, and the recovery process. The research aimed to fulfill three objectives:
- Describe the variety of coping strategies that help youth after a disaster
- Examine how ties to places can support youth’s resilience
- Compare the effects of each type of coping strategy on youth’s wellbeing and resilience.
This research was conducted through a series of studies:
Researchers interviewed youth who survived the southern Alberta floods in 2013. Youth took photographs, created videos, and wrote stories to describe their ways of coping with the disaster.
To obtain a larger sample size, researchers surveyed youth form across Canada to investigate which of the coping strategies identified by Albertan flood-affected youth were the most useful for long-term disaster resilience from youths’ perspectives.
Study 3 applied an intervention approach, to test one of three coping workbooks and investigate their impacts on recovery and resilience from natural hazard related disasters.
A a whole, these studies informed practitioners and policy makers to more effectively support youth following such disasters, and provided some insights into coping strategies to directly support youth, their families, and their communities.
The research team learned from youth about their coping strategies with the goal of informing those working to support youth in the context of climate change and those creating policies affecting youth-health and disaster management focused policies.
- Identified several coping strategies that youth felt supported their disaster recovery
- Examined how connections to place, or a sense of belonging, supports youths’ resilience
- A comparison of the effects of each coping strategy on youths’ wellbeing and resilience was created.