New study captures what young Cantabrians want

WELLBEING: Canterbury University's Dr Kate Prendergast is conducting a study in Christchurch...
WELLBEING: Canterbury University's Dr Kate Prendergast is conducting a study in Christchurch which aims to understand what young people want to change about their city.
A new study is aiming to find out what young people like and want to change about living in Christchurch.

The study, for 12 to 24-year-olds, is led by Canterbury University postdoctoral fellow Kate Prendergast and Professor Bronwyn Hayward, to gain an understanding of how young people can flourish while doing so sustainably.

Research teams in seven cities, Christchurch included, have been exploring this understanding through focus groups, and are now asking young people to complete a survey and have a say on how they want to live.

Dr Prendergast said by listening to young people, they hope to get an insight into how they can live while minimising environmental impact.

By looking at their aspirations, how they lived, and what their visions were, the study aimed to know how cities can support young people's wellbeing and living.

"We want to try and have a planet that future generations can enjoy as well," she said.

"We're hoping to share these findings with policy-makers to help us identify ways we can support young people in order to feel safe and welcome in their cities."

The Christchurch study, Ōtautahi Mataora - Christchurch Living, is part of the Children and Youth Cities Lifestyle and Sustainability project.

Funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council, the worldwide study is conducted for the Centre of Understanding Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Surrey.

Dr Prendergast said young people in Christchurch have told researchers about the importance of green spaces, housing and physical safety - all of which impact mental health and general wellbeing.

"Green spaces really matter to young people, and local parks are important for their wellbeing," she said.

"They've told us that green spaces support their physical health and offer a place to connect with friends. It's important that all young people are able to access these places and feel comfortable and happy to be a part of them."

Some have wanted spaces to hang out beyond shopping malls, while others have highlighted dissatisfaction with their homelife - whether it was feeling unsafe or struggling to keep warm while reducing power bills.

Dr Prendergast believed findings from the survey would not be expected compared to the ideas they had four or five weeks ago - before Covid-19 took a stranglehold of the world.

Said Dr Prendergast: "I think they'll be valuable as we go through this difficult and challenging time.

"Hearing what young people want to change about Christchurch is important especially with Covid-19 and as the economy starts to recover."

The survey asks young people a range of questions about different aspects of their lives and can be found at:

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