YouCreate toolkit – Participatory arts-based action research for well-being and social change

What did we do

YouCreate is an initiative of Terre des hommes, and was designed and carried out in partnership with the International Institute for Child Rights and Development.

YouCreate is a PAR Project aimed to train youth leaders, with the support of Adult Allies and the ‘Art-kit’ (training manual), to lead their peers in implementing participatory arts-based research projects and ‘Art Actions’ – arts-based activities designed to address issues of significance to youth in their community.

Youth are trained to map and explore significant community issues and challenges and to collaboratively select challenges to address in their communities through design and implementation of ‘Art Actions’.

YouCreate Art-kit: The Art-kit is a guide that youth leaders can use for planning and leading activities and provides tips and tricks for supporting youthleaders work.

YouCreate Project Management Guide: designed to help project staff to understand the YouCreate project and how they can support youth and colleagues to develop a strong project.

YouCreate Capitalization Report: This report provides important background information on the current state of arts-based programming for young people impacted by migration and adversity worldwide.

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YouCreate has been carried out in Iraq and Egypt and is expanding to other countries and regions (Ukraine & Greece).





Health and Wellbeing15-18International18-25Over 25


Tell us what you found out –
what were people’s experiences, views or ideas for change?

This PAR project has been breaking down barriers between youth, their families and communities who are coming together with a common purpose of strengthening wellbeing through the arts.

What are your recommendations or calls to action?

Key recommendations for consideration in the You Create project:
1. A holistic social ecological approach to MHPSS should be implemented.
2. Supporting the resilience of young people should be a main goal of arts-based programming.
3. Develop an approach that positions young people as change makers.
4. Enable young people to connect with their peers through peer-networks.
5. Develop strong trusting relationships between adult allies and youth leaders.
6. Ensure facilitators are properly trained and supported to lead an interactive participatory approach.
7. Apply a gender lens to arts-based programming.
8. Respectfully challenge discrimination based on gender, culture or nationality through arts
9. Find ways to encourage social cohesion through arts-based programming by intentionally bringing diverse groups together.
10. Provide time and budget for relationship and trust building in all trainings, workshops, and in program activities with young people.
11. Ensure that all activities are grounded in culture and context. Engage local community members and teams in the contextualization and design of activities.
12. Recognize the value of art as a tool for strengthening psychosocial wellbeing and creating social change. Build this into program design more broadly across programs.
13. Carry out a stakeholder analysis prior to/upon inception of projects in order to ensure that a community engagement model is applied.
14. Seek out opportunities for research grants and partnerships with research institutions to contribute innovative research and evidence to support youth-led arts-based programming to strengthen psychosocial wellbeing and protection of young people.
15. Encourage a youth-led mixed methods approach to Monitoring and Evaluation.

  • advice

    What do you suggest other people try out?

    Avoiding “Adultism” Adults can sometimes believe they have greater contributions than children and believe that youth need to become adults before they have expertise. It is important to reflect on the way we think and act. To identify if you are being “adultist” reflect on statements you make and ask yourself “would I treat another adult like that?” “would I use that tone of voice?”.

    Tell us your advice on doing participation activities - what worked well, what you enjoy, what is inclusive?

    During the pilot of YouCreate, some youth reported that discussions about safety, security and justice and rights were overwhelming for them. We have adapted the language of the pillars to help address this concern. Youth also reflected that they did not have control over these areas of their lives, and could not address these through their Art-Action projects. In the pilot we saw evidence that youth were able to create a sense of safety and security through the project, and did increase specific rights such as participation. As adult support people, please guide Youth Leaders to discuss these important concepts with consideration, exploring areas of youth’s lives they feel some control over, and can realistically address within YouCreate. It is important to acknowledge that YouCreate may not have impact on the broader environment of adversity or conflict, but changes at the individual, peer, family and even community level, can help improve these more challenging pillars as well. For example, when discussing Pillar 1: Feeling Safe, although a youth may not feel safe living in a conflict zone, there might be people, places or things that help them connect with a feeling of safety, and this is important to grow and support through YouCreate. In the pilot of YouCreate, the YouCreate team and meeting space often became a place where youth felt safe and supported.
  • impact

    What do you try to change?

    With the objectives of strengthening wellbeing, resilience, and leadership among youth, YouCreate has been positively impacting youth.

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