Seeking the Voice of NWT Youth:Using Photovoice to Explore Healthy Choices

Regions: South Slave Region

Tags: health, social sciences, youth, participatory research, photovoice

Principal Investigator: Mitchell, Kellie (1)
Licence Number: 13923
Organization: GNWT- MACA
Licensed Year(s): 2005
Issued: Nov 16, 2005

Project Description: This participatory action research explores what healthy choices means to NWT youth. Reports call for more focus on promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing illnesses and on individuals taking responsibility for their own well-being. There is a direct correlation between the growing burden of chronic disease and increased costs and effects on the health care system. A collaborative approach towards development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy addressing social issues while working towards social equality is needed. This research, which supports further efforts to understand the way healthy choices are made by those involved and affected, is approached through a phenomenological perspective, where stories of peoples’ experiences are told as is, without interpretation.

The research is envisioned to progress through four stages. These include: setting the stage for photovoice research, taking pictures, critical reflection and dialogue, and documenting the stories of the participants. Dr. John Frank, Scientific Director for Canadian Institutes for Health Research indicated in the Healthy Living Strategy (2003) that many lifestyle choices are set by age 15 or 16, including the frequency of physical activity, food choices, and smoking habits. The project participants, being 12-13 years of age, would be an ideal group to study as they are still at an impressible age, and are willing to engage in the photovoice process.

Communication is crucial throughout the research process. As research is a cyclic process, it is therefore imperative to report back to the participants after the research has been completed. Meetings will be arranged with participants to review their stories, identify new opportunities that may have risen from the research, receive and respond to participant feedback and questions.

This project will be conducted as a requirement for a Master’s thesis, a copy of which will be deposited at the Aurora Research Institute library upon completion of the degree. As GNWT is sponsoring this research, the information will be utilized by MACA to provide youth with opportunities and supportive environments to foster positive values, attitudes, and choices towards healthy lifestyles. A summary report of the results of this research will be delivered to community organizations within the Deh Cho region.
The study will be conducted at Princess Alexandra School, Hay River from November to December, 2005.