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September 21 and 22
2 days, 2 disciplines, 2 ways to participate – defining our professional roles and uniting to build more equitable, accessible and inspired communities.
How do you engage youth when they are constantly flipping through 15-second videos? How do you begin a conversation with teenagers about cities when the topics of planning and design are unfamiliar to most of them? Sadly, these challenges are not new.
Since even before the COVID-19 pandemic, city-building professionals have largely failed to address the barriers that prevent youth from participation or provide the space for youth to learn about the processes of city building. As planners, policymakers, and designers, we have not prepared ourselves to engage young people as active stakeholders and incorporate their input. However, as many community engagement processes were forced to shift online due to the pandemic, there is renewed hope and opportunity in finally reaching this under-represented age group in our cities through digital means.
Urban Minds is a Toronto-based non-profit organization with a mission to create meaningful ways for youth to shape equitable and sustainable cities. In this session, co-founder Ryan Lo and youth team members Maya Lekhi and Enosh Chen share their experience of engaging young people ages 13-19 on behalf of municipal, private sector, and non-profit partners through online formats. From case studies in Toronto, Markham, Mississauga, and Hamilton, the Urban Minds team breaks down their strategy of promoting, designing, and facilitating online youth engagement sessions. They share practical tips in attracting and retaining youth’s attention, such as youth-friendly incentives for participation, breakout-room etiquette, and how to run an engaging online charrette. Discussion includes how to navigate through youth-specific data privacy concerns, such as managing contact information, screenshots, and parental consent. The workshop concludes with a fun pop quiz: participants will be tested in making youth-friendly decisions for a mock community engagement process, as Maya and Enosh provide constructive feedback from their first-hand experiences as youth.