Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is designed to empower youth and center youth voices in PSE change interventions and community leadership.
Youth carry vital knowledge about community strengths, challenges and possible solutions, yet they are rarely included in the crucial decision-making processes that impact their lives. YPAR’s adaptive, flexible approach trains youth to design and conduct a research project based on the questions and concerns they have about their school and/or community. Youth researchers then use their findings to propel social action and advocate for relevant PSE changes related to nutrition and physical activity.
Some examples of YPAR projects include youth researching water access and appeal at their school and advocating for the installation of new water stations; youth researching food waste in their lunchroom and advocating for a share table and refrigerator to redistribute unwanted items; and youth researching food access in their community and advocating for an expanded school garden.
Additional information and examples can be found in the following reports, which document successive CFHL, UC YPAR projects across California:
The Stepping Stones Framework is a SNAP-Ed approved curriculum that supports the design and facilitation of YPAR projects in the community. It was derived from tools developed over multiple decades by several organizations that are currently available through the online resource Community Futures, Community Lore. Stepping Stone 1 begins with an introduction to YPAR, and the activities throughout each successive Stepping Stone support team building, project development, research design, data collection and analysis, creation of a final product, and action.
Community Futures, Community Lore, is a free online resource for YPAR that was developed by a partnership between the Center for Regional Change and the School of Education at the University of California, Davis. It includes an enhanced online version of the Stepping Stones to support project planning and facilitation, as well as a number of stories from communities that have utilized these tools and an FAQ section that addresses a variety of common questions related to YPAR and offers links to additional resources.
Snapshots and Stories: My Voice, My Community is a guide from the Network for a Healthy California – Children’s Power Play! Campaign for facilitating photovoice. Photovoice is a participatory research method that enables young people to produce visual images and written narratives that reflect community assets and issues and tell a story about health, nutrition, and physical activity in their community from their perspective.
YPAR Hub from UC Berkeley and San Francisco Peer Resources also contains information, resources, and ideas to support facilitation of YPAR.