Youth Vital Signs grades key social and livability standards in metro Vancouver

3,500 young people aged 15-24 participated in Lower Mainland survey

VANCOUVER, Nov. 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Vancouver Foundation today released Youth Vital Signs, a report card on quality of life in metro Vancouver from a youth perspective. This comprehensive survey, co-sponsored by Coast Capital Savings, the City of Vancouver and MAKe Marketing Inc., captures the shared experiences of 3,500 young people in the Lower Mainland aged 15-24.

Survey respondents graded life in metro Vancouver in 13 categories, including: arts; environment; poverty; youth housing and homelessness; safety; employment and training; education and learning; transportation; culture, identity and belonging; physical health; mental health; youth voice; and youth spaces.

Metro Vancouver young people identified four of the 13 subjects as requiring immediate attention.

Poverty received a C.  Young people responding to the survey said they want more support for people living in poverty. Youth want to bring government, businesses and local communities together to start a solution-based dialogue on raising the minimum wage, increasing social assistance rates, providing more affordable housing and improving economic policies, such as tax structures to reduce the poverty gap. This would help ensure that metro Vancouver becomes a more affordable and vibrant place for everyone.

Employment and Training received a C.  Many young people accept unpaid internships or unsafe working conditions. Survey respondents are looking for more employment and work experience opportunities in the form of improved job training and workplace readiness programs, better awareness of workplace rights and the ability to earn a living wage.

Education and Learning received a B.  Combined with the high cost of living, youth in metro Vancouver find post-secondary education difficult to afford. Youth Vital Signs respondents said they would like to see more public funding for public schools to reduce class sizes and increase the number of alternative education programs. Youth also identified the need to improve school curriculum and grading system to better prepare students for post-secondary school.

Youth Housing and Homelessness received a C.  Too many young people are living in unstable housing situations in metro Vancouver due to lack of affordable options. The 2011 metro Vancouver Homeless Count found 397 homeless youth under the age of 25. Youth would like more long-term sustainable housing options such as co-ops, family housing for young parents and greater access to rental subsidies. Young people also recommended more investment in homelessness prevention and intervention, particularly targeted to youth in government care who "age out" of the system when they turn 19 with no support network in place.

The Youth Vital Signs report card is a youth-driven research and public opinion initiative conducted by Vancouver Foundation's Youth Leadership Council, a diverse group of 16 to 24-year-olds from different backgrounds and cities in metro Vancouver. Youth voices and opinions are often not included in planning, policy and funding decision-making processes, particularly from youth under 18 who can't vote. The goal of Youth Vital Signs is to increase the influence of youth in public policy and community investment decisions that affect their lives by encouraging dialogue, debate and action.

"Young people are used to seeing research conducted by adults that really isn't representative of our views," said 20-year-old Rahul Walia, a member of the Youth Leadership Council. "This type of research resonates better with youth when it comes from their peers."

"Youth Vital Signs represents the voices of metro Vancouver's current and future community leaders," said Kevin McCort, President and CEO of Vancouver Foundation. "The rising cost of education, increasing competition for entry-level jobs, and limited affordable housing options all delay a young person's transition to adulthood and hinder their ability to live independently. These are important social issues that need to be addressed so young people can realize their full potential and continue to make a meaningful contribution to our communities."

Coast Capital Savings' Young Leaders Community Council members Kevin Keystone and David Dryden agree that the results of the Youth Vital Signs Report Card represent a critical first step in the engagement and empowerment of the regions' young people.

"This initiative truly exemplifies Coast Capital's goal of helping to build a richer future for youth in our regions by giving them a voice," says Keystone. "It offers young people a tangible way to inform and influence decision and policy makers on issues that matter most to them," adds Dryden.

This is the second Youth Vital Signs report produced by Vancouver Foundation. The first report was published in 2009, but only included young people living in the city of Vancouver. This year's survey expanded its geographical reach to include youth living in metro Vancouver. Youth Vital Signs is modeled after Vancouver Foundation's Vital Signs report, which surveyed adults on key livability standards in the region.

Youth Vital Signs 2013 was made possible through the generous support of Vancouver Foundation, Coast Capital Savings, the City of Vancouver and MAKe Marketing Inc.

The Youth Vital Signs website is at www.youthvitalsigns.ca
View the full report of 2013 Youth Vital Signs, here http://youthvitalsigns.ca/img/content/pdf/YVS_2013.pdf

Please join us for the "Ask Youth Vital Signs" Community Tweet Chat on Thursday, November 14th from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm when Youth Leadership Council members will answer questions about quality of life in metro Vancouver. Follow YVS on Twitter @vfypc and use hashtag #yvs2013 to join the conversation.

Vancouver Foundation is hosting a community celebration to mark the launch of the Youth Vital Signs report on Saturday, November 16 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver.  The event will include a presentation on the Youth Vital Signs survey results, a live art battle of young artists competing on acrylic canvas, aerial acts by Underground Circus and musical performances by Good for Grapes, among other activities.

About Vancouver Foundation
With almost 1,500 funds and assets totaling $814 million, Vancouver Foundation is Canada's largest community foundation. In 2012, Vancouver Foundation and its donors made more than 4,000 grants, totaling approximately $46 million to registered charities across Canada. Grant recipients range from social services to medical research groups, to organizations devoted to arts and culture, the environment, education, children and families, disability supports for employment, youth issues and animal welfare. To find out more visit: vancouverfoundation.ca or follow us on social media: Facebook.com/vancouverfdn and @VancouverFdn

About Coast Capital Savings
Coast Capital Savings Credit Union is Canada's largest credit union by membership with 504,000 members, total assets under administration of $14.6 billion and 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution and the country's most flexible mortgage product, the You're the Boss™ Mortgage, which was named 2010 Mortgage of the Year by canadianmortgagetrends.com. Coast Capital offers one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™. It is a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. To learn more, visit www.coastcapitalsavings.com

SOURCE: Vancouver Foundation

For further information:

Martin Livingston
Vancouver Foundation Communications
604-629-5184
martin.livingston@vancouverfoundation.ca

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