Are you a high school student? Are you interested in developing your leadership skills? Do you want to be involved with youth research in your community? If so, we want to hear from you!
Purpose of the YAC:
The purpose of the HEAL Youth Advisory Council (HEALYAC) is to integrate youth voices, perspectives, and expertise into our research on young people’s health and wellbeing. As part of the operational structure of our lab, the HEALYAC is how we implement an overarching participatory approach that sees research as with and for youth, as opposed to solely on youth. By establishing a YAC, we are positioning youth input as integral to shaping both the wider strategic directions and priorities of our lab, and decision-making at the level of specific projects.
The concept of the YAC is rooted in our values as a lab. We believe that youth perspectives are necessary to ensure the integrity and quality of our research, so that our research has the greatest potential to improve the health and wellbeing of youth. Considering that we have similar values, both the adult and youth researchers at the HEALab also have a collective goal of improving the health of young people within the London community, and our partnership will assist in the production of social change, both in research practice and health policy. We also see our relationship with the HEALYAC as a two way street: youth advise HEALab projects and directions, ensuring relevance and resonance to strengthen our work, and youth receive leadership experience and research training and education. Diversity is one of our core values, and we believe that a diverse group of youth who bring varied experiences and perspectives to the table is central to advancing the mission of the HEALYAC.
WHAT DO YOUTH GAIN AS A YAC MEMBER?:
- First-hand academic research experience through exposure to the HEALab environment.
- Develop leadership skills in an advisory capacity role.
- Participate in research activities, either on specific roles in data collection and analysis or as youth co-researchers, where possible.
- Enhance professional development through opportunities embedded throughout HEALYAC activities.
- Collaborate on local community initiatives where possible.
- Mentorship from HEALab staff and development of positive youth-adult relationships.
- Participate in HEALab projects/activities that align with their interests, where possible.
WHAT DO YAC MEMBERS DO?:
- Advise on strategic directions of the HEALab and research priorities.
- Provide input on research instruments.
- Provide input on research design.
- Advise on study recruitment/retention strategies for HEAL studies.
- Ensure relevance and readability of publications/research products aimed at youth.
- Consult as needed on HEALab research and community outreach initiatives.
- Attend and participate in bi-weekly (sometimes monthly) meetings from November – June, and attend a 1-day orientation session on October 20th (mandatory).
- Collaborate with one another to develop and communicate new ideas to lab representatives.
WANT TO JOIN THE YAC? HERE’S WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:
We are looking for a diverse and inclusive group of 10 to 14 students to join our Youth Advisory Council.
We welcome applications from youth of all genders, sexualities, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and neighbourhoods, and we are committed to accessibility.
To be a part of the advisory council, you must be:
- Between the ages of 13 and 18 years (high school age)
- Living in London Ontario (or surrounding area)
- Able to attend bi-weekly meetings (sometimes monthly) between November 2018 and June 2019
If this opportunity interests you, please apply before September 28, 2018. The selection process will be conducted through an online application and a formal interview by staff and youth leaders.
If an applicant is not selected for the HEALYAC, we will work with them to find other volunteer opportunities at the HEALab that align with their interests, but cannot guarantee this.
July 25, 2018
- Application Forms for HEALYAC members open.
September 8 – 9, 2018
- Information sessions for interested individuals will be held at the HEALab at Western University.
September 28, 2018
- Online Forms Deadline
- Application Forms close and no further applications will be accepted.
October 10 – 12, 2018
October 20, 2018
- Orientation day
- After selection of YAC members, one orientation day will take place, this meeting will include presentations, games, and general information about the HEALab and HEALYAC (food will be provided!).
Our names are Ahad Mahmood (Left), Krishna Arunkumar (Right) and Suraj Paul (Middle) and we are the youth leadership team working with the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) to develop and implement a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) for the HEAL. The HEAL conducts research to create healthier communities in London, Ontario and surrounding areas with a focus on young people’s health. The HEAL believes that research should be for and with youth, not only on youth. In order to implement this principle, they decided to create a Youth Advisory Council for the lab. The idea is that youth perspectives are essential to ensuring that HEAL research has the best chance of improving the health and well-being of youth. It’s also a two-way street: youth advise HEAL projects and directions, and youth receive leadership experience and opportunities to learn about research. We are currently working to develop the model for our YAC in what we are calling a youth-driven planning.
We’re making steady progress. We have created a draft terms of reference which entails all the functions and goals of the YAC and the responsibilities of its members. We’ve met with various individuals who have given us unique insights into how we can develop a council that allows its members to feel included and heard. For our next steps, we are working on improving our terms of reference and contacting more individuals for advice and feedback on our ideas for the YAC. We hope to finish creating the plan for the YAC by May/June 2018 so it can be implemented in the fall.
In the summer of 2018, we plan to have an open meeting which will aim to attract the attention of youth who might be interested in our YAC. After gathering a team of about 10-14 individuals from high schools in and around London, Ontario, the YAC will be established. We hope to attract youth from different places, with different experiences, and various backgrounds so that our YAC benefits from diverse perspectives. There will be an application process which we are currently finalizing; however, candidates who aren’t selected for the YAC are encouraged to become involved in other volunteer opportunities at the HEAL. The team will work in tandem with the HEALab by sharing ideas and thoughts about different research projects going on around the lab.
Thank you for your interest in the Youth Advisory Council for the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory at Western University.
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If you have questions about our YAC development, or if you have advice to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.