Youth Creating Disaster Recovery And Resilience

Youth Creating Disaster Recovery & Resilience (YCDR) was a research project focused on youth recovering from climate change-related disasters. YCDR engaged with youth in a number of disaster-affected communities in Canada and the United States to explore personal experiences and to incorporate their ideas to improve disaster recovery response. 


Youth Creating Disaster Recovery & Resilience (YCDR­2) was a cross-border initiative aimed at learning from and with disaster-affected youth 13 to 22 years of age in the communities of Joplin, Missouri, in the United States, and Slave Lake, Calgary and High River, Alberta, in Canada. Each of these communities experienced major disasters and were in the early stages of recovery when they were selected for this study. Working with local partners in each community, YCDR­2 faculty and students engaged youth in experiential and arts-based workshops to explore their stories of recovery and resilience. The questions framing this research project focused on the people, places, spaces and activities that helped or hindered the recovery process for youth and their peers.


This research was grounded in a participatory orientation, and the flexible research and engagement strategy mirrors some of the concurrent data generation and analysis strategies of grounded theory. The YCDR2 research involved disaster-affected youth from the four focal communities in a series of workshop and arts-based research activities that varied across communities, but shared common elements. Each workshop process was designed to build the trust and engagement of participating youth, facilitate activities designed to explore the research questions, and create a space for storytelling processes and discussions that would help elaborate and deepen the shared understanding of youth’s recovery experiences.


YCDR2 was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight grant in 2012. The project team included co-leads Dr. Robin Cox (PI) and Dr. Lori Peek (Co-Investigator), Dr. Jennifer Tobin-Gurley (researcher and research coordinator), Drs. Cheryl Heykoop, Sarah Fletcher, and Leila Scannell from the RbD, and graduate and undergraduate students from Royal Roads and Colorado State Universities. YCDR2 received additional funding from the Canadian Red Cross in 2014.


The YCDR2 project used flexible, youth-centric, arts-based research workshops to learn from and foster the inclusion of young people as active and able contributors to disaster recovery and resilience. The project has contributed to a more refined understanding of what places, spaces, people and activities youth perceive as supportive of their recovery from disasters. It also informs knowledge and practice of research with youth in the post-disaster recovery space and the challenges and opportunities of establishing youth-community-academic partnerships.

Reports & Publications

Cox, R.S., Scannell, L., Heykoop, C., Peek, L, Tobin-Gurley, J., (2017). Understanding Youth’s Disaster-Recovery: The vital role of people, places and activities. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, available online at

Peek, L., Tobin-Gurley, Cox, R.S., Scannell, L., Fletcher, S., and Heykoop, C. (2016). Engaging youth in post-disaster research: Lessons learned from a creative methods approach Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement 9(1), 89-11

Fletcher, S., Cox, R.S., Scannell, L., Heykoop, C., Tobin-Gurley, J., and Peek, L. (2016). Youth Creating Disaster Recovery and Resilience: A Multi-Site Arts-Based Youth Engagement Research Project Children, Youth and Environments, 26(1), 148-163.

Tobin-Gurley, Jennifer, Robin Cox, Kylie Pybus, Lori Peek, Dmitriy Maslenitsyn, and Cheryl Heykoop. Youth Creating Disaster Recovery and Resilience in Canada and the United States: Dimensions of the Male Youth. In Men, Masculinities, and Disaster, edited by Elaine Enarson and Bob Pease. Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge.