Statement of Purpose Children and youth from Indigenous and other communities experiencing socio-economic challenges face disproportionately high rates of injury mortality and morbidity. Partnerships between communities and injury prevention researchers is the foundation for the Voices of Children and Youth (VOICES) project, which aims to demonstrate the potential to influence community safety and injury prevention policy and programming through child and youth leadership.
Methods/Approach VOICES recognizes and respects child and youth-centric ways of knowing, such as storytelling, and engages the communities’ affinity for their environment, visual and oral communications by using an innovative information gathering and presentation method. Youth engage in Visual Storytelling – combining photography, video, narratives and mapping to capture lived experience and provide a platform for the community to identify and target injury issues. The discussions include injury prevention and associated challenges, and successes related to safety and safe spaces. Participants also develop skills in journalism, mapping and leadership. The focal point of the photos and videos is safe and unsafe places in the community, and emphasizes the role of the physical and social environments in order to foster solutions and changes. Examples will be from Indigenous communities and other contexts. This workshop will provide participants with a similar experience to that of children and youth. After a description of the methodology, participants will be invited to explore their environment to identify either challenges or safety successes, capture those locations with photos and video, and develop a story to convey the issues, context and solutions they envision. Participants will present their findings to the group, after which a discussion will help to further expand on the injury issues and potential solutions. Missing will be the step of developing relationships with community leaders, although that important element will be discussed as part of the methodology.
Conclusion VOICES incorporates a community-based participatory research method to advocate for change by balancing power between community members, especially children and youth, and policy makers, creating a sense of community ownership, fostering trust and responding to cultural or community preferences.
Significance This initiative sets the stage for the development of community policy by exploring the youth’s perceptions of the causes of injury. This unique method integrates children and youth in addressing their community injury priorities, supporting the community to work with their own information and programming, and in indigenous communities, exploring how effective mainstream prevention initiatives may be adapted to indigenous settings.
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