Squamish youth give District “C” and “B” grades

The survey of teen residents ranks mental health services and transportation

The grades are in.

A survey of local teens was turned into a report card that gives the community letter grades on a variety of issues and includes plenty of ideas for how to improve Squamish for young people.

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The survey was administered by Sea to Sky Community Services from October 2017 to July 2018 and polled residents ages 12 to 18.

“We thought it would be a nice easy format to work with, it takes these categories and makes them simple,” said Pearce Mundy, youth engagement strategy coordinator, at a July 24 presentation to councillors.

“This data helped to show where youth were being reached and also where there was a lack of resources, funding, information or services for youth,” he said. “Our hope is the information will provide a vision for change so we all work together to take steps in the right direction.”

Over a hundred students took part, and the survey was promoted in schools, over social media, movie nights and team building events. Ages 12 to 18 were part of the survey.

The result is a 15-page document that offers six grades aimed at different areas of concern for youth.

Transportation received a “B” grade overall, with affordability rated highly.

Students also rated the school system highly, giving the education and learning category a “B” grade but indicating school spirit could be improved. Suggestions to improve learning in town included upgraded computers, restricting smartphone use, and more choice and flexibility.

For “Youth Voice” the town receives a grade of “C.”

Suggestions for improvement included involving youth in city decision-making by creating a youth city council, and online forum for student to chime in or a newsletter geared towards younger citizens.

The section on youth spaces divided some who answered the survey.

While some described the current youth centre as a “second home” and “a nice place with events” others described it as “sketchy” and stigmatized.

Coun. Karen Elliott noted that Squamish neighbourhoods and stratas are often focused on very young families, but their needs will change as those kids get older.

“We’re designing for one age bracket – the conversations are never about monkey bars or basketball nets,” she said.

“It’s very interesting that we’re not planning our community for a range of youth.”

A section of the report card also focused on mental health.

Most survey-takers gave the town a “B” for accessing mental health services, but a “C” for how those supports were promoted.

Many students also raised concerns about the lack of “indoor activities” in town, giving arts and entertainment a “C” grade for a lack of movie theatre, bowling alley and art classes.

The lack of a movie theatre in town was a common complaint in the report – even showing up under mental health and youth voice suggestions.

Other suggestions included a youth art gallery, free gym, more concerts and more shops.


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