Children and youth talking, moving and advocating: Innovative research engagements

Tuesday May 17 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
Virtual Platform

Session Code: SCY4
Session Format: Regular Session
Session Language: English, French
Research Cluster Affiliation: Sociology of Childhood and Youth
Session Categories: Regular Session

Papers in this session discuss innovative research engagements with diverse children and youth in ways that foreground talk, movement and advocacy. Tags: Children and Youth, Research Methods, Social Change, Theory

Organizers: Rebecca Raby, Brock University, Noah Kenneally, MacEwan University; Chair: Noah Kenneally, MacEwan University


Lindsay Herriot, University of Victoria

From researching with youth to research by youth: Participatory Action Research (PAR) insights from the first youth-authored post-secondary textbook

This presentation tells the methodological story of Trans Youth Stories: An Intergenerational Dialogue After "The Trans Tipping Point" (2021). It is the first primarily youth-authoured post secondary textbook, grounded in various branches of feminism, queer and trans theory, disability theory, and childhood studies. After explicating how each of these theoretical underpinnings was enacting in the research praxis, we contend that a youth-authored book powerfully changes research about youth to research with and by youth. It also partially addresses the power discrepancies that youth participatory action research (PAR) tries to address (see Anyon et al., 2018; Camarotta and Fine, 2008; Shamrova and Cummings, 2017) by having youth participants create, tell, and publicize their own stories and findings as authors and co-researchers in their own right. To avoid romanticizing youth voices (see Lancy, 2012 for the seminal account of this pitfall) our book deliberately includes adult, scholarly perspectives as responses to the youth writing at the conclusion of each thematic section. This intergenerational dialogue links the youth’s work to the scholarly literature in the field and offers crucial academic and practical interpretations. Rather than an authoritative evaluation of the youth’s work, the scholarly responses summarize, contextualize, and extend each thematic section.  In addition to the content-specific research about the various domains of young trans life in the volume, our book is presented here as a methodological roadmap for how youth-centred and youth-authored contributions can add to the growing field of participatory action research and childhood studies more broadly. We look forward to seeing many more youth-authored collections about a host of lived experiences and identities becoming post-secondary textbooks and mainstream volumes.

Laurel Donison, Brock University; Rebecca Raby, Brock University

"I'm going to call my friend to join us": Connections and challenges in online video interviews with children during COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began it changed the way that much research was being done as pandemic protocols led researchers to use alternative methods to “capture understandings of the experiences of those affected by the pandemic” (Tremblay et al, 2021, p.1). We wanted to learn about children’s views and experiences of the pandemic and so early in the pandemic we began conducting repeated, online video call interviews with a group of thirty children living in Southern Ontario and between the ages of five and 16. In this paper, we reflect on methodological, relational and ethical dimensions of this research project.  We start from the position that children’s viewpoints are important, that children are able research participants, that researchers and participants build meaning together, and that there are hierarchies that must be attended to within researcher-participant relationships, especially when the researchers are adults and the participants are children. In this way, we also engage with concepts such as children’s voice, participation, inequality and knowledge production. We explore three main themes: building relationships and developing rapport; entering and exiting children’s worlds; and unexpected ethical challenges. Our focus on repeated online video call interviews is important because such an approach has rarely been used with children in the past but has become more prominent during the pandemic. Our findings explore how repeated online video interviews have the possibility to create “meaningful spaces for children and young people to engage in research” (Cuevas-Parra, 2020, p.4) in difficult times, but also bring certain research challenges.  

Laura Wright, University of Edinburgh; International Institute for Child Rights and Development; Prathit Singh, #covidunder19; Laura Lee, International Institute for Child Rights and Development

Online Participatory Research in Partnership with Children and Young People

Increased involvement of children and young people in lead, collaborative, and advisory roles in interdisciplinary research has challenged ‘traditional’ adult research practises in numerous ways. Co-production recognises participants as experts and creators of knowledge, engages children and young people in decision-making, as well as addressing traditional adult-child hierarchies.  #CovidUnder19 is a movement that aims to foster intergenerational partnerships between children, young people and adult members of the child rights community to develop evidence-based advocacy to uphold children’s rights throughout the pandemic, as well as in response and recovery.  Children and young people aged 14 to 19 from countries around the world are involved as co-researchers and advisors in data analysis and knowledge exchange. This presentation will critically reflect on the experiences of COVIDUnder19 young people as researchers designing questions on children’s participation for the COVID 4P Log (an app designed to better understand ways practitioners and policy makers protect, provide, enable participation, and prevent harm in their practice) and their engagement in online art and play based participatory data analysis and report writing. It will be presented by an intergenerational team to explore strengths, challenges, and lessons learned, including the value of developing spaces for dialogue with children in decision making. The presentation will conclude by highlighting the need to strengthen the role of children and youth in participatory research on critical issues of children’s participation in child protection and rights pertaining to COVID19 recovery, and provide recommendations for future research in childhood studies. 

Lisa Sandlos, York University; Rennie Tang, California State Polytechnic State University Pomona

Keeping It Loose in the Schoolyard: Promoting Physical Literacy for Children and Youth through Landscape Design and Movement Provocations

In this presentation, we describe our collaborative, interdisciplinary research which examines the range, types and qualities of movement performed by urban children and youth in relation to the design of the schoolyard environments they inhabit every day and the significance of those movements for their physical, mental and social development. Beyond conventional kinesthetic activities within physical education such as sports or fitness, we assert that self-directed, spontaneous, playful, non-prescriptive movement is essential for the health and well-being of children and youth. Contemporary structures shaping academic and social life lead to sedentary behaviors and deter students from moving with full physicality and expression. One way to encourage more wide-ranging movement expression is by building a culture of physical literacy into the design of schoolyard landscapes. We investigate how this can be achieved using the concepts of “flow” (from movement research theory and creativity studies) and “loose space” (from urban design theory) and applied through collaborations between movement educators and landscape/urban designers such as ours. Through a partnership between California Polytechnic University Pomona Department of Landscape Architecture (CPPLA) and Richland Elementary School in West Los Angeles, our research involved working with a sixth grade cohort of 22 students, paired with undergraduate students from the Department of Landscape Architecture (CPPLA) at California Polytechnic University Pomona who were tasked with designing and leading a series of outdoor workshops with the students at Richland as part of their landscape design studio course. Drawing on our observations of the process of interdisciplinary co-creation that took place at Richland Elementary School and our analysis of the qualitative data gathered in this research project, we recommend ways in which the physical, mental and social well-being of urban youth can be enhanced by basing schoolyard design practices on the dynamic potential and spatial realms of young bodies in motion.