Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 110, Issue 5, pp 626–632 | Cite as

The Young Canadians Roundtable on Health: promising practices for youth and adults working in partnership

  • Heather L. RameyEmail author
  • Mary-Ellen Rayner
  • Sharif S. Mahdy
  • Heather L. Lawford
  • Jordi Lanctot
  • Miranda Campbell
  • Eileen Valenzuela
  • Joshua Miller
  • Valerie Hazlett
Innovations in Policy and Practice



Canadian youth (aged 15–29 years) are more diverse, educated, connected and socially engaged than ever before. However, many face health-related challenges, including mental health problems (10–20%), substance use concerns (14%) and obesity (45%).


The Young Canadians Roundtable on Health (YCRH) was created in 2013 to be Canada’s youth voice on health. Supported by the Sandbox Project, this youth-led advisory works primarily virtually, leading advocacy projects and wide-ranging health initiatives.


Youth and adult allies engaged in a participatory research evaluation of the YCRH, which was identified as a living laboratory, where youth could experiment with ideas and provide new perspectives on health issues. Adult allies reported learning new skills from youth, and youth gained advocacy and leadership skills. Collaborative projects resulted in a sense of shared achievement. Further, youth increased their connections to health and youth-serving spaces across the country. Identified challenges included difficulties in coordinating a national roundtable and defining shared responsibilities.


The researchers generated the following evidence-based promising practices for youth engagement in health systems and program planning: (1) provide a consistent platform for youth input; (2) appreciate different forms of knowledge, expertise and communication methods; (3) invest in relationships and build mutual understanding among youth and adults; (4) for adult allies, be patient and comfortable with the ambiguity and unpredictability of working with youth; and (5) continually revisit and renegotiate structure and flexibility.


Youth health Health promotion Youth engagement Youth-adult partnership Youth-led 



Les jeunes Canadiens (âgés entre 15 et 29 ans) sont plus diversifiés, éduqués, connectés et socialement engagés qu’auparavant. Par contre, plusieurs font face à des problèmes de santé, notamment des problèmes de la santé mentale (10 à 20 %), des problèmes de consommation (14 %) et d’obésité (45 %).


« The Young Canadians Roundtable on Health (YCRH) » est un groupe qui fut créé en 2013 dans le but d’être le porte-parole des jeunes Canadiens concernant la santé. Soutenu par le projet intitulé « The Sandbox Project », ce conseil est dirigé par des jeunes qui travaillent principalement virtuellement, menant des projets de plaidoyer et des initiatives de grande envergure en matière de santé.


Des alliés jeunes et adultes ont participé à une évaluation de recherche de la YCRH, qui fut identifiée comme étant un laboratoire vivant où les jeunes pouvaient expérimenter des idées et fournir de nouvelles perspectives sur les problèmes de santé. Les adultes alliés ont déclaré acquérir de nouvelles compétences auprès des jeunes et les jeunes ont acquis des compétences en matière de plaidoyer et de diriger les autres. Les projets collaboratifs ont abouti à un sentiment de réussite partagée. De plus, les jeunes ont renforcé leurs liens avec les espaces de santé et de services destinés aux jeunes à travers le pays. Les défis identifiés incluaient des difficultés pour coordonner une table ronde nationale et définir des responsabilités partagées.


Les chercheurs ont élaboré les pratiques prometteuses suivantes fondées sur des preuves pour la participation des jeunes aux systèmes de santé et à la planification des programmes : 1) fournir une plate-forme cohérente pour la participation des jeunes; 2) apprécier les différentes formes de connaissances, d’expertise et de méthodes de communication; 3) investir dans les relations et construire une compréhension mutuelle entre les jeunes et les adultes; 4) pour les alliés adultes, soyez patient et ayez de l’aisance avec l’ambigüité et l’imprévisibilité de travailler avec les jeunes; et 5) réviser et renégocier continuellement la structure et la flexibilité.


Santé des jeunes Promotion de la santé Engagement des jeunes Partenariat jeunes-adultes Dirigé par les jeunes 



We would like to thank Dr. Linda Rose-Krasnor (Brock University, Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement) for her invaluable suggestions on both the overall project and this manuscript. We are also grateful to Umayangga Yogalingam, Victoria Moore, Aimee Coles, Parnian Pardis, Timothy Chung and Akosua Bonsu for their thoughtful contributions to the revision.

This project was funded, in part, by the AstraZeneca Canada Young Health Program and by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant to Heather Ramey.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather L. Ramey
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mary-Ellen Rayner
    • 3
  • Sharif S. Mahdy
    • 4
    • 5
  • Heather L. Lawford
    • 2
    • 6
  • Jordi Lanctot
    • 7
  • Miranda Campbell
    • 7
  • Eileen Valenzuela
    • 3
  • Joshua Miller
    • 8
  • Valerie Hazlett
    • 9
  1. 1.Faculty of Social and Community ServicesHumber College Institute of Technology & Advanced LearningTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement, Adjunct Faculty in Child and Youth StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada
  3. 3.The Sandbox ProjectTorontoCanada
  4. 4.The Students Commission of CanadaTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Centre of Excellence for Youth EngagementTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyBishop’s UniversitySherbrookeCanada
  7. 7.Students CommissionTorontoCanada
  8. 8.Young Canadians Roundtable on HealthTorontoCanada
  9. 9.Bachelor of Child & Youth Care StudentHumber College Institute of Technology & Advanced LearningTorontoCanada

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