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 champion 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:
- FFY 2022: Meeting Youth Where They Are
- FFY 2020-21: Staying Connected
- FFY 2019: Growing Capacity
- FFY 2018: Building Together
- FFY 2017: Moving from Serving Youth to Engaging Youth
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.
YPAR Summer Training Institute Recordings
- Introduction to YPAR & Project-Based Module
- This training workshop provides an initial orientation to youth participatory action research (YPAR), modeling introductory activities and discussions that can be facilitated with youth teams. This session also presents framing, resources, and materials for a 6-session project-based module designed to introduce young people to youth-led PSE change interventions.
- Facilitating YPAR & Structured YPAR
- This training workshop presents framing, resources, and materials to support facilitation of youth participatory action research (YPAR), including a 12-session structured YPAR model that can be implemented within a more limited timeframe. This session also explores examples of previous CFHL, UC YPAR projects and provides an orientation to Community Futures, Community Lore’s online YPAR resources, including the Stepping Stones toolkit.
- YPAR Planning, Application & Support
- This training workshop provides a review of the three scaffolded approaches for YPAR implementation and the various resources that support project planning and facilitation. Participants reflected on lessons learned from previous YPAR projects and had an opportunity to develop and share their own YPAR plans for the upcoming federal fiscal year.