headerimage Home

Text Size
environmentalsustainability growthmanagement sustainabletransportation healthycommunities serviceexcellence


Plan and implement a Youth Engagement Initiative to inform and direct youth-based health promotion work.

greenstatus Final update (September 2014)
Region of Waterloo Public Health works with a youth-led action group of volunteers called ‘Impact’, a group established in 2012. Youth volunteers engage and educate their peers about healthy living and positive change. Impact has 14 volunteers ranging in age from 14 to 21 who develop health promotion campaigns and events to engage other Waterloo Region youth on topics such as smoke-free movies and banning flavoured tobacco products. Impact’s campaigns and events focus on tobacco industry “de-normalization” and include efforts to raise awareness about tobacco industry marketing tactics specific to youth. From 2012 to 2014 the volunteers contributed over 2000 hours to the Impact program and participated in 10 community events.

In January 2014, Public Health launched the Youth Ambassador Program. The Program pairs youth leaders with community organizations to support the planning and implementation of youth-led health promotion activities. Six youth engagement leaders were recruited and trained in youth engagement, facilitation and program planning. Youth engagement leaders have partnered with other youth from the YWCA and the YMCA in Cambridge to teach health promotion and the development of health promotion activity. In June, Public Health held the first health promotion activity with the YWCA. Girls from the YWCA participated in the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts to promote positive body image through an art display to help educate teens and parents about media distortion of the female form. Youth interacted with over 150 people at this event.
Youth participants in the program report that they are:

  • Thinking more about the future;
  • Able to change their community for the better;
  • Feeling an increased desire to stay in school, and;
  • In agreement that the program helped improved goal setting, program solving, time management, teamwork and leadership skills.

Progress Update (September 2013)

To fulfill the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Smoke-Free Ontario youth engagement directives and funding to Public Health, the Tobacco and Cancer Prevention team has assigned a Public Health Planner to lead the youth engagement portfolio along with youth volunteers aged 14-21. The Public Health Planner operates under the leadership of the Manager of Tobacco and Cancer Prevention and Director of the Healthy Living division of Public Health.

Activities related to this initiative include health promotion projects that focus primarily on tobacco use prevention, as well as other correlated chronic disease and injury prevention risk factors. In May 2012, the Public Health Planner and youth volunteers were involved in an advocacy event for further legislative restrictions on flavoured tobacco products. For the remainder 2013, Youth Volunteers will continue to develop campaigns that focus on tobacco denormalization; including smoke-free movies and flavoured tobacco.

A recruitment for additional youth volunteers occurred in September 2012. In preparation for the recruitment, a recruitment plan and youth volunteer orientation manual was developed, as well as policies related to the youth engagement strategy that will continue to be developed.

The Public Health Planner continues to network with the Waterloo Region Youth Community of Practice, that is comprised of adult and youth community partners with a passion for engaging youth in the community and developing strategies to improve youth health in Waterloo region.

Staff within the Healthy Living Division of Public Health continue to collaborate on the development of a youth engagement strategy. A Planning Committee was formed that includes representation from each of the teams from within the division that meet regularly to research and develop recommendations for a divisional youth engagement strategy and seek opportunities to collaborate where applicable. The recommendations were expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and intend to shape the future work with the youth volunteers.

Progress Update (January 2013)

Health promotion projects to engage youth have placed a focus primarily on tobacco use prevention, as well as other correlated chronic disease and injury prevention risk factors this past year. 

For the remainder of 2012 and 2013, youth volunteers will continue to develop campaigns that focus on changing youth behaviours and perception toward tobacco; including smoke-free movies and flavoured tobacco.  Recruitment of additional youth volunteers is planned.

In preparation, a recruitment plan and a youth volunteer orientation manual have been developed.

Progress Indicators

  • Given that this is the initial development and planning process for youth engagement , local youth volunteers will be included in the planning and implementation of youth targeted activities. The number of youth involved in the activities and reached will determine its success.

Related Links


greenindicator   Strong progress achieved   2011-2014 Strategic Plan (PDF)
yellowindicator   Moderate progress achieved   2011-2014 Strategic Plan (RTF)
redindicator   Progress needed   2011-2014 Strategic Plan (Flash)