Participatory research: What do the youth find important for a healthy life?

What do young people in Rotterdam-Zuid consider to be the most important lifestyle challenges? What factors do they see as barriers or motivators to living a healthy lifestyle? And what role does their environment and social media play in this? These questions were investigated by Roel Lutkenhaus from the Movez Lab and Momentum during the 'Influence' project. Over a period of six weeks, he worked with the Chance to Influence Foundation and the TalentzSkool Foundation to gain insight into how healthy young people find their living environment. Now that the project is completed, Roel hopes to inspire others to see young people not as research objects, but as part of the entire research process.

"In this research project, I used Participatory Action Research. With this research method, it's about the process and what you can learn from the process. The young people took the lead in coming up with social media ideas, and we gained a lot of new insights because we didn't set the framework in advance," Roel explains.

Getting creative

Twenty young people participated in the research and attended several creative workshops over a six week period. Are you curious what they did?:

  1. With theater, music, and group discussions, the youth talked about the things in their environment that make it difficult to live a healthy life.
  2. The youth created social media campaigns for a healthy living environment. They came up with hashtags, t-shirts, social media challenges, and raps. They proudly presented their end results to the group.
  3. At the end, the youth discussed the workshops and all the feedback they received on their creations together. Do you want to see all the fantastic creations? Watch the video below.

Based on the workshops, Roel was able to discuss with the youth which societal themes they find most relevant and the reactions they receive to them. He also engaged with them on what role a healthy lifestyle plays in their social and physical environment and, in particular, the significance of role models and social media.

Roel has learned that researchers view the reasons why young people live unhealthy lives differently from the youth themselves. He hopes that other organisations will be inspired to work with youth, listen to them, and help more youth live healthy and happy lives.