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Supporting youth-led community geography on the impacts of neighbourhood social infrastructure on young people’s lives: A case study from East Scarborough

Authors: Ahmed Allahwala*, , Ajeev Bhatia*,
Topics: Qualitative Research, Applied Geography, Higher Education
Keywords: youth, community geography, participatory geographies, action research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper is a reflection on the process of three years of youth engagement in neighbourhood-based geographic research on the state of social infrastructure and youth wellbeing in East Scarborough, Toronto, Canada. The paper revolves around the creation and evolution of LIFT, a grassroots youth-led research and advocacy group with the mandate to engage young people in community-based research to identify gaps in resources and services and inform local organizations about youth priorities. Drawing on traditions of narrative research and critical reflection as research method, we explore how community geography can be a responsive approach to the emergent needs of youth to define and problematize their lived experience and collect data to influence decision-making in their communities. We articulate a series of propositions and core assumptions to inform a non-adultist, youth-focused community geography, highlight the ethical dimensions of this work, as well as unpack the often-complicated institutional and interpersonal power dynamics that shape the success and sustainability of youth-led community geography.

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