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!

Applications for the 2019-20 school year are now open! Apply here!

Follow us on Instagram @heal.yac for updates! If you are interested in learning more about our YAC contact us at

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.

Our Values:

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.


  1. First-hand academic research experience through exposure to the HEALab environment.
  2. Develop leadership skills in an advisory capacity role.
  3. Participate in research activities, either on specific roles in data collection and analysis or as youth co-researchers, where possible.
  4. Enhance professional development through opportunities embedded throughout HEALYAC activities.
  5. Collaborate on local community initiatives where possible.
  6. Mentorship from HEALab staff and development of positive youth-adult relationships.
  7. Participate in HEALab projects/activities that align with their interests, where possible.


  1. Advise on strategic directions of the HEALab and research priorities.
  2. Provide input on research instruments.
  3. Provide input on research design.
  4. Advise on study recruitment/retention strategies for HEAL studies.
  5. Ensure relevance and readability of publications/research products aimed at youth.
  6. Consult as needed on HEALab research and community outreach initiatives.
  7. Attend and participate in bi-weekly (sometimes monthly) meetings from November – June, and attend a 1-day orientation session on October 20th (mandatory).
  8. Collaborate with one another to develop and communicate new ideas to lab representatives.


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.

For more information, feel free to look at our draft Terms of Reference or contact us at

HEALYAC Meeting 3

During our third YAC meeting, we had master’s students, Drew…

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HEALYAC Meeting 3
HEALYAC Meeting 2

HEALYAC Meeting 2

During our second HEAL YAC meeting, guest speaker Dr. Christina…

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HEALYAC Meeting 1

During our first HEAL YAC meeting of the 2018-19 year,…

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HEALYAC Meeting 1

*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!).


*November 1, 2018

-PhD student of HEAL, Brenton Button presented his PhD research on the Spatial Temporal Environment and Activity Monitoring Project as well as Karen, a recent Master’s of Public Health graduate from the HEAL, also spoke with the YAC on the SmartAPPetite project and her research.


*November 15, 2018

-Dr. Christina Ergler from the University of Otago, presented one of her recent research projects that she conducted in Auckland, New Zealand. The study explored the topic of youth activity levels in a densely populated area versus a suburban area. Ergler enhanced participation by allowing children themselves to become researchers.


*November 29, 2018

-Drew Bowman and Alexander Wray, both Master’s students, present their respective studies. Bowman introduced her study on the food environment audits and Wray presented his study on urban planning.


*February 14, 2019

-A guest speaker from the Western Research Ethics Board, Katelyn Harris, went into great depth within the topic of research ethics and gave members her perspective of what it is like when approving studies or sending them back for revision.


*February 28, 2019

-AJ Wray and Suraj Paul gave a presentation about PCR Statements (Principle, Concern, Recommendation) to the HEALYAC.


*March 21, 2019

-Members welcomed Dr. Kristen Reilly as one of the new Staff Co-Facilitators of the HEALYAC.


*June 8, 2019

-The HEAL conducted the YACYAC

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 developing a more efficient model for our YAC in what we are calling a youth-driven planning.

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 improving our terms of reference and contacting more individuals for advice and feedback on our ideas for the YAC in the coming 2019-2020 year.

The YAC will be established once the group attains a 10-14 member group. 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.

Youth Advisory Coalition of Youth Advisory Council (YAC YAC)

The Youth Advisory Coalition of Youth Advisory Councils (YAC-YAC), was hosted by the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory Youth Advisory Council (HEAL-YAC). YAC-YAC is a conference that was dedicated to facilitating collaboration among youth from various youth groups in London, Ontario. Members of the HEALYAC started planning the YAC-YAC since February of 2019 by contacting other youth councils in London, designing a logo, ordering shirts and other YAC SWAG, coming up with activity ideas during the conference, and much more. The YAC-YAC conference took place Saturday, June 8 from 1 – 5 pm located at Innovation Works (201 King St. London, Ontario).

Groups had the opportunity to gain and share diverse perspectives, learn how other groups approach and solve youth-related issues, and network with other youth in the London community.  Groups entered a fun, supportive, and inclusive environment that included icebreaker activities, giveaways, ‘SWAG Bags’, contests, pizza, and much more.

There were two goals for this conference and both these goals were met. The first was to highlight the importance of youth perspectives and voices in the community. The second was to provide youth with problem-solving tools and skills, enabling youth to make a change within their community. These goals were accomplished through engaging and collaborative breakout and activity sessions, such as a ‘meet & greet’ where youth groups networked with one another and shared their council’s mission statements and interests. Another was the ‘position statement’ activity, where youth were divided into groups and worked as a team to write position statements about particular issues related to youth. There was also a ‘rapid debate’ activity where youth discussed topics that affected them and their community. Throughout the conference, the youth had multiple opportunities to express their diverse perspectives as well as listen to the voices of other youth.

For the first conference hosted by the HEALYAC, we received great feedback from youth who attended the event through a post-conference survey, which the HEALYAC administered at the end of the conference. Some things attendees of the YAC-YAC conference said were “I liked being able to collaborate with other youth and hear so many diverse opinions,” “This event helped me learn more about youth in London and about all the interesting opportunities that are available for youth,” and “I really liked sharing opinions in a big group.”

Learn more about the YAC-YAC conference on the HEALYAC Instagram page (@heal.yac).

If you have questions about our YAC development, or if you have advice to share, please contact us at