Case Study 2: Youth Leaders Set Goals

Youth Leadership Forum



On October 21, 2016, roughly 60 students (grades 7-12) and 20 adults from eight schools across the Tri-Counties participated in a youth leadership event in South Western Nova Scotia. The purpose of the Youth Leadership Forum was: 1) for youth to assess the strengths, challenges and opportunities in their schools, and to set goals and develop action plans for moving forward; 2) to provide opportunities in schools to develop action plans that could help them join the Health Promoting Schools program, thus filling an upcoming youth service gap.


The funding for Youth Truth Matters (YTM) – which played a significant role in building youth leadership across the Tri-Counties – was coming to an end. Therefore, it was a priority for the Forum to help young people and adults build skills around youth leadership and engagement, and to generate ideas on how to fill the leadership gap in their schools. The event provided a transition step for schools who relied on YTM programming. The action plans developed in this event are helping the participating schools to receive support from the Tri-County Health Promoting Schools to put their plans into action.

Click HERE to read more about who was involved...

Location: Camp Peniel, Tri-Counties, South Western Nova Scotia

Collaboration by: Youth Truth Matters, The Tri-County Women’s Centre, Tri-Counties Health Promoting Schools, the Change the Odds project, the Tri-Counties Regional School Board, Nova Scotia Health Authority and RESPECT!

Adult Supporters: Adrienne from Adrienne McCurdy Consulting; Amy Mackinnon, Kirsta Morris, Miranda MacLean from Tri-County Women’s Centre; Denise Vacon and Lori MacLeay from Tri-County Health Promoting Schools; Stephen Paquette and Janice Fraser from Change the Odds.

How RESPECT was Applied:

In addition to RESPECT Principles being applied in the planning and implementation of the event, youth and adult Forum participants directly applied RESPECT Principles to understand their schools and envision the changes they wanted to make.

1. YOUTH LED Activity:  Strengths, Challenges & Opportunities

Set up:

  • Youth broke out into six groups of roughly 10 youth from different schools for this activity.
  • Each group had two Youth Truth Matters youth leaders who facilitated the exercise. One wrote down the group’s answers and the other made sure the group stayed on topic.
  • Prior to the activity, YTM adult supporters coached the youth leaders in how to host their groups. During the activity, YTM adult supporters circulated through the groups to offer support and answer questions.
  • Each group was assigned one of the RESPECT Principles (except for Establish Goals, because all groups were setting goals in the afternoon).


  • Each group was responsible for thinking about the strengths, challenges and opportunities for one Principle. The Picture above shows an example blank template to capture the conversation around the strengths, challenges and opportunities for Real Empowerment.
  • To fill in the ‘opportunities’ section, groups were asked to look at their challenges and to brainstorm ideas on how to overcome them.
  • Groups wrote down their #1 strength, challenge and opportunity on the sticky notes at the bottom of the page.
  • Ideas were shared back to the main groups, and their top points were put onto a large drawing at the front of the room.

2. ADULT Activity:  RESPECT, Goals & Action Planning

While the youth self-facilitated the Strengths, Challenges & Opportunities activity, adult supporters were introduced to RESPECT and exchanged ideas on how to support youth through the upcoming Goal Setting activity.

3. YOUTH & ADULT Activity:  Goals & Action Planning

Youth and adults met with their school groups for the final activity. Together they discovered their shared goals, their school’s unique strengths and challenges, and what steps they want to take to overcome their challenges to reach their goals.


Each group filled out a template similar to the one shown below. The results from this activity are with the participants so that they may continue to work on them over the year.


Out of the 54 youth who completed the evaluation survey, 93% rated their overall experience as good or very good. 67% said that working in groups was helpful, which included specific mentions of: working on the map (goal setting and action plans); sharing ideas with others and hearing from other schools; learning what they need to work on in their schools; and brainstorming on ideas to improve schools. 15% specified the workshop activities as being helpful, including: the activities; information and new learning; learning about RESPECT; and learning about youth leadership.


The eight schools who attended now have access to resources created for this event as well as practice in applying these tools. Youth Truth Matters youth leaders built on their experience in facilitating groups, and the adult supporters learned a new method for goal setting and action planning. These activities support students and schools to think about how RESPECT Principles are applied, as well as how youth and adults can work together to set goals and create action plans.

The participants also met their Health Promoting Schools (HPS) representative and learned more about the support they are eligible for through HPS. If any of the schools wish to apply for support from HPS, they can now use their action plans as part of their application process. This is especially important since one of the main barriers schools have to joining is that they do not have a youth engagement action plan.