Case Study 1: Using RESPECT to Design Events

Intergenerational Forum on Youth Voice & Leadership


On May 3, 2016 over 60 people from across generations gathered to explore the theme of youth leadership in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The Intergenerational Forum was designed to be an intergenerational conversation on how to better include youth in civic life. The event was part of a series of stakeholder engagement sessions on municipal governance and built upon the momentum from previous health-related municipal intergenerational engagements. The Forum included youth from three high schools and adults from non-profits, businesses, municipal councils, and public institutions.

Collaboration Details - Click to

Location: Pictou County Wellness Centre, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia

Sponsor: The Pictou County Memorandum of Understanding on Municipal Reform Committee (Municipality of the County of Pictou and towns of New Glasgow, Pictou, and Stellarton).

Adult Supporters: Jaime Smith from Marram Consulting and Adrienne from Adrienne McCurdy Consulting.

How RESPECT was Applied:

The RESPECT Principles were integrated throughout the Forum’s design. Some of the Principles were arranged by the adult supporters based on experience of what works (i.e. Environment is Youth Friendly), where as youth played a more active role in deciding how to implement other Principles (i.e. Real Empowerment). Click on the Principles below to see how each was incorporated:


  • More than Tokenism: This event built upon a series of youth and intergenerational engagements in the community.
  • Youth Involvement: Four youth leaders from two high schools and two adult supporters were involved in planning and facilitating the Intergenerational Forum. Early in the planning meeting, the youth were introduced to the RESPECT Principles and discussed ideas on how to weave them into the day.
  • Balance of Power: In the Forum, youth were on equal footing with adult community leaders and decision makers – ranging from school administrators, to town Councillors, to business owners to NGO staff.


Read more on Real Empowerment…


      • Choosing the Date: Prior to confirming the date, the organizers checked the schedules of the three participating high schools to choose a date that did not conflict with school trips.
      • Accommodating Rural Students: Students met at their schools first, then took buses to a central event In order to accommodate their fixed bus schedules, the Forum ran between 10:30am-2pm.


Read More on Youth Friendly Environments…


  • Actively Listen: By using a technique called Socratic Circles, all participants divided into smaller groups and took turns listening and speaking with one another. This deeper level of listening enabled people to learn from each other’s perspectives.
  • Support to Lead: In planning the Forum, youth leaders were supported by adults to find the right leadership roles that found a balanced the youth’s need for safety and personal growth.


Read More on Support & Guidance from Adults…


  • Meaningful for Youth: Locally, youth had actively expressed a growing need to be heard by adults and a strong desire for opportunities to engage with adults in intergenerational forums. Additionally, municipalities and organizations wanted to increase their understanding of youth perspectives.
  • On-Going Engagement: This event built upon previous intergenerational forums (hosted by other community groups) and fed into the creation of a Youth Leadership Action Committee.


Read More on Meaningful Participation...


  • Personal Goals: During planning, youth leaders decided their roles for the Forum which gave them an opportunity to fulfill goals, such as ‘to practice public speaking’.


Read More on Establishing Goals…


  • Making Space in Institutions: The Intergenerational Forum was designed to help adults understand the kinds of involvement youth want in Pictou County so the adults could make room for youth voice and participation in their formal structures.
  • Outward Focus & Relationships: Building relationships and understanding within the community was the focus of the event.


Read More on Community Matters…


  • Youth and Adults Learn from Each Other: The design allowed for youth and adults to listen deeply to one another.
  • Building Capacity: Participants received RESPECT handouts and a brief presentation on the main youth engagement concepts to enrich their discussions of what they wanted to see happen in the community.
  • Mentoring: Youth leaders were supported to continue to build their facilitation and event planning abilities.


Read more on Learning Together…


Youth participants clearly stated that they feel their voice is not heard. They are unsure or unaware of opportunities to engage in the community (politically, economically, socially, environmentally) so that youth might influence positive change. Adults expressed concern around outcomes if status quo is continued, and wanted to learn from the youth how to make space for their perspectives and participation.

The intergenerational format facilitated direct connections between adults in the community – who wanted to include youth in what they were doing – and youth who wanted to be involved outside of school activities.

A number of barriers to participation were identified and solutions were proposed. Among the recommendations for moving forward was a clear call for community to support the leadership development of youth (adapted from the final report):

  • Explore new ways to develop leadership, including participatory leadership models that allow multiple views and opinions to come together to create change.
  • Create opportunities for youth to come together with adults to create change.
  • Explore youth councils and other ways that bring youth voice and leadership into leadership spaces in community and government.

Impact/Lasting Change:

Because municipal decision makers and youth were actively engaged in the Forum, municipal leaders were able to listen to youth perspectives and ask questions. This helped them gain a deeper level of understanding of the issues and interests of youth in their community. As a result, the outcomes outlined in the Intergenerational Forum’s report were readily adopted by the Town of New Glasgow, whose key influencers gained first-hand understanding of the challenges and proposed solutions during the event.

New RESPECT tools are being created to assist the Town of New Glasgow’s Youth Leadership Action Committee as it moves forward, ensuring that the RESPECT Principles are embedded in all aspects of the committee, from planning and development to operations. Another Case Study on the Youth Leadership Action Committee will be posted in the Spring of 2017.

Contact Us if you wish to explore the application of RESPECT in your municipality.


  • On-going community development: It is important to stress the value of on-going community development in a region. Organizing and delivering this Forum in two weeks was possible because 1) youth were familiar with planning and facilitating events; 2) there was a budget for facilitation; and 3) there was wide-spread readiness for an intergenerational forum exploring increasing the civic involvement of youth in the region.
  • More than one-off: This Forum illustrates that even if there is only funding for one or two events at a time, it can have an on-going impact. If you are questioning how to integrate an event so that it is not just a ‘one-off’ (which can damage trust in the long term), make sure that it ties into community needs and complements other work already done. Collaborating with other community partners and finding common goals is a great way to do this.
  • Social license to operate: The Town of New Glasgow was able to gain a strong commitment from its Council to create a Youth Leadership Action Committee because it was an idea with demonstrated community support. Introducing a new way of engaging community in the decision making process can be challenging for some groups, especially when there are legal obligations involved and a degree of control is required. However, communities and youth increasingly want, and in some cases demand, to be involved in decision-making processes. By moving beyond ‘open houses’ towards an inclusive approach to engagement, municipalities often discover that engaging communities as partners in development can make their jobs easier and lessen community push back. (See the International Association for Public Participation’s Public Participation Spectrum for more information.) Depending on the issue, waiting too long to engage the public, or not choosing the appropriate level of community engagement, can lead to public outrage.