Conceptualizing Youth Participation in Children’s Health Research: Insights from a Youth-Driven Process for Developing a Youth Advisory Council
The power imbalance that exists between youth and adults lends to a concentration of academic research conducted on youth, and a lack of academic research conducted with and for youth. Despite the awareness among scholars of the benefits that youth bring to research, youth engagement in academic research remains low as it faces conceptual, methodological, and practical challenges. As described by Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation, the minimal amount of youth engagement in today’s research creates an illusion of participation. This paper presents a new rendering of Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation – the “rope ladder.” Derived from the youth-driven planning process to develop a Youth Advisory Council for the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, this new ladder integrates a greater degree of flexibility and mobility for youth engagement, while remaining responsive and susceptible to external forces. The rope ladder suggests that involving youth in the design of their own participatory framework reveals dimensions of participation that are important to youth, which may not be captured by the existing participatory models. This article was written by HEAL team members Krishna Arunkumar, Drew D. Bowman, Stephanie E. Coen, Mohammad A. El-Bagdady, Christina R. Ergler, Jason A. Gilliland, Ahad Mahmood, and Suraj Paul.
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Children’s Health Foundation, and a William Evans Fellowship from the University of Otago, New Zealand.
“Conceptualizing Youth Participation in Children’s Health Research: Insights from a Youth-Driven Process for Developing a Youth Advisory Council” is published in Children, an international peer-reviewed open access journal of pediatrics published monthly online by MDPI.
Read the full article here: https://doi.org/10.3390/children6010003
Keywords: children’s health, health geography, healthy cities, healthy communities, participation, participatory health research, place-based health research, youth advisory council, youth