Last month, girls and their adult allies from across Monterey County gathered for a 3-day intensive training with the Youth Leadership Institute to enhance their leadership skills. They are participants in Girls Health in Girls Hands, a girl-led movement that empowers girls to have a voice in their own healthcare.
The training came at an opportune moment. The girls have been working on a critical initiative to raise awareness about mental health issues among high school students. Over the past few months, they have conducted 1000 surveys in high schools around the county to gather youth perspectives on mental health services offered. Based on their findings, they are planning to draw up a series of recommendations to improve access, services, and resources provided by school counsellors.
Youth-Led Action Research is among YLI’s core strategies in our own youth programming, and the training we have developed through our Training and Consulting Services draws on and is constantly evolving based on our direct work with youth. The training covers:
- The key role of research and data in community change projects.
- The importance of youth voice in defining community issues and generating solutions.
- The necessary steps of successful action research, including:
- Identifying the research question
- Selecting a methodology that best addresses this question
- Developing an action plan for collecting data
- Analyzing the data
- Reporting out the findings
Fresh out of the field, the young women were able to compare notes, reflecting on their research process — what had gone well, what could have been improved — and gained a slew of new tools for their next campaign. Perhaps even more importantly, the training represented a powerful opportunity for the youth and their allies across the county to connect and build relationships.