Published: March 20, 2020
Access Opportunity YPAR team and Leah Teeters, PhD

Students Share Their Experience as Youth Researchers at YPAR Panel

The Crown Institute community gathered in February to hear from student voices from four distinct Youth Participatory Action Research projects. Youth Participatory Action Research, or YPAR, is an approach to research and youth led social change  where youth identify pressing dilemmas in their communities and engage in systematic research that can help inform action to improve their lives, their communities, and the institutions intended to serve them. Organized by Drs. Ben Kirshner and Leah Peña Teeters, the panel was an opportunity for the twelve students to present their research studies and findings and engage in dialogue about the importance of youth-led inquiry.  Guest speakers, Executive Director Vanessa Roberts and Youth Researcher Caleb Washington of Project Voyce, kicked off the evening by sharing Caleb’s work in the Denver community to interrupt environmental racism. The evening continued with student-led presentations from each study, including: Mind. Body. Voice., the Mindful Campus Project, and Access Opportunity. 

The panel was an opportunity for the institute community to learn about YPAR, engage with the students, and to show how the sharing of power is fundamental to YPAR. The panel was student-led, which is an essential principle in a YPAR study. 

One of the highlights of the night was the Q&A portion, when the audience had the opportunity to ask students more specific questions. 

When asked, “How has being on a YPAR team impacted you?” some memorable responses were: 

“We are looking into problems that affect us all. Youth are working on problems that affect them. I think that affords them a unique motivation to create change. I think that’s why YPAR is so powerful. It gives us a voice and a platform for that voice to change problems that affect us and oppress our daily lives.” 

“I wanted to do research, but this project is what kept me going. It gave me the opportunity to talk with others and not be talked at. We were given the opportunity to have a voice.”

“It has opened the opportunity to really be a part of a community and to really make a difference.”

“It was such a unique research opportunity. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities and was so inspiring. I felt like I had true support and community.”