Youth Take the Lead in Needs Assessment for SWOVA’s Salish Sea Girls’ Leadership Project – by Andria Scanlan, Project Coordinator

Youth Advisory Council with coordinator, Andria Scanlan

Youth Advisory Council with coordinator, Andria Scanlan

The eleven young women who make up the Youth Advisory Council for the Salish Sea Girls’ Leadership Project (SSGLP) will be joining the ranks of off island commuters over the next few weeks.  In order to explore what their peers from Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna Islands believe might be standing in the way of them fully participating in their communities and reaching their full potential.  They will be riding the daily water taxis that bring students to GISS from the Outer Islands to carry out a needs assessment with girls and young women.

Canada’s Girls Action Foundation (March 2013) recently published reports identifying plenty of excellent data showing that girls and young women living in rural communities face significant barriers compared to their urban peers and same aged male counterparts.

Participants of SWOVA’s Salish Sea Girls Leadership Project (SSGLP) are between the ages of 15 – 24 years.  The team has been working towards finalizing the methodology details for the five-island needs assessment in conjunction with the Project Coordinator and UBC based research experts.  We will ask girls and young women to identify and explore issues and barriers that they experience living in our communities.  Once the issues are identified and prioritized, root causes can be identified and plans for change can begin.

Working on the needs assessment

Working on the needs assessment

The task at hand is extremely important.  SSGLP Youth Advisory Council members will survey girls and young women aged 15 – 24 years who have primarily grown up in the Southern Gulf Islands.  According to Statistics Canada  (2012) there are 615 females between the ages of 15 – 24 years living in our five island grouping, which coincides with School District # 64 (Salt Spring, Saturna, Galiano, Mayne and Pender Islands).

“We plan to survey 25 percent of the total eligible population living amongst the islands this summer which will result in a statistically powerful representation of our young female population”,  Andria Scanlan,  Project Coordinator.  Lisa Halstead, SD# 64 Superintendent and project supporter has given the go ahead for SSGL members to ride the school water taxis in order to access the Outer Islands population.

“It’s exciting to be able to connect with other youth from smaller islands.  Physically travelling to the Outer Islands is the best way to start taking change into our own hands.”  Nikky Varlis Love, Youth Advisory Council member.

Plans to collect data from the SSI population are also being finalized and will include posting SSGL members in different places throughout the community this spring and summer to collect the information.  According to Sarah Kyle, also from the Youth Advisory Council “I am looking forward to hearing what young women in our community have to say and seeing people’s reaction to the survey”.  Data Analysis will take place later this summer.  Stay tuned!