Urban Scrawl

This multi-city project will support child and youth leadership in environmental health by engaging an amplifying the voices of young people in Canada through advocacy, accessible communication and fluidity. In collaboration with youth co-facilitator in each of Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver, the team will initiate a conversation about community and environmental health and encourage children to doodle their depiction of nature and a healthy environment onto postcards, which will then be disseminated to a wider audience of the general public and policy-makers. The goal is to make interconnections between communities and determine what aspects of a healthy community are important to youth.

Project Updates (in their own words):

URBANscrawl in Victora

IMG_1173On February 16, 2013,  we held our Urban Scrawl workshop in Victoria. Attendees included a diverse group of youth, who were involved with local youth councils, non-profits, community outreach organizations, and an art collective. We hired a graphic facilitator who had a background in working on youth advocacy projects, and she helped us to communicate the ways that graphic facilitation and graphic recording could be used in everyday life. A major highlight from the workshop included an exercise where everyone used their new graphic facilitation tools to create an image of a social problem that affects youth that they see here in Victoria. Participants came up with many examples of issues that concern them including: lack of public transportation, gender inequities, disconnect between public education and the outside world, activist fatigue, and over-prescription of psychiatric medication for young people. Then, each person was encouraged to move to another person’s poster and contribute to the ‘solution’. This process went on for a few rounds, and by the end, each poster had a problem, as well as a multitude of possible solutions. This activity highlighted the potentials of using graphic facilitation as a tool for giving young people a voice in their communities.

Feedback from youth participants was overwhelmingly positive. Many of them said that they hope to use the skills they learned in their lives as activists and community members. We will follow up with them in 6 weeks, and discuss how (and if) they have been able to use graphic facilitation or recording in settings with other youth as a voice for advocacy. From these further consultations, we hope to gain some insight into how to build our Urban Scrawl tool kit, along with our fellow Urban Scrawlers from Winnipeg and Toronto.


URBANscrawl in Toronto 

IMG_1169In Toronto, we have focused on housing issues. Youth from several housing-related service providers have been recruited as youth facilitators to initiate dialogues amongst their peers about housing changes that they want to see in their neighbourhoods and communities. Throughout November, 2012 the youth facilitators were trained in graphic facilitation to lead these dialogues. The youth facilitators ran graphic facilitation sessions at their service provider organizations.

The work in November was building towards a workshop in December 2012. At the forum the youth facilitators led their peers through a deeper discussion of the housing issues that they are facing and how they might be overcome. This session was complemented by a parallel session for service providers and policy makers. Following the forum the youth facilitators reconvened to distill key messages and developed a postcard advocacy campaign


URBANscrawl in Winnipeg at the Youth Agencies Alliance Conference

On Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, Jillian and I participated in the Youth Agencies Alliance Conference. This is a yearly event wherein various agencies from across the community come together to share their experiences and skills in the work that they do. The conference was live tweeted, there was a keynote speaker along with six workshops for people to attend, and the theme this year was “storytelling”. Jillian and I were honoured to be one of the six groups to facilitate a workshop throughout the day. Our audience was a room full of frontline workers from various agencies. If you would like to see more on the conference, here is a link to the 2012 workshop series: http://www.youthagenciesalliance.com/#!conference/c1jym

We had an hour-and-a-half to deliver our presentation and spent the first half of it discussing our experiences in Vancouver with Knowledge Leaders, explaining some of CEHE’s main philosophies and theory such as EqKT so that the audience could get an idea of where we were coming from with the formation of the URBANscrawl facilitation tool. We developed a prezi for the first time to accompany our discussion and then introduced the idea of URBANscrawl as a facilitation tool. We finished the last half of the workshop by facilitation an URBANscrawl session with the frontline workers. We also created a mock-up facilitator’s guide that we distributed to the workers so that they could take the tool back to their organizations and implement it themselves.

We started off by getting the frontline workers to discuss common doodles that they had seen their youth use, before asking them to represent common things through doodling like trees, houses, roads, apartment blocks and water. We had them working in groups of 3-4, sharing large pieces of poster board. Finally, we asked them to “scrawl” about either the city of Winnipeg or a neighbourhood in the city and some chose to do one or the other. We lastly encouraged the participants to graphically “value” things that they had included in their scrawls. It was interesting to watch the discussion unfold and the process of what should be included in the maps and how it was represented. Everyone participated and afterwards we laid them all out on the floor and took turns looking at all of them, commenting on what was “valued” in each drawing and what we could draw from the doodles.

To wrap up, we had discussions about whether or not people would consider using this tool with their youth and what barriers they could foresee coming up. We also asked people to fill out a feedback form around these questions and I have typed up and attached their responses. All in all, many participants seemed excited about this tool and expressed a desire to use it, citing it as “easy to facilitate” and a “fun, community-building activity”. Some concerns came up about “what if children draw something inappropriate, or use gang signs” or about the willingness and attention span of youth who participate. This was a great opportunity for URBANscrawl to try out the tool, and it was an invaluable experience to gain the feedback of community members and frontline workers. With the positive feedback we received, it left both of us excited and hopeful about how far this project can go.