Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network (YAHAnet) is a global social networking platform set up by Claudia Mitchell. It grew out of a 2006 UNESCO-sponsored needs assessment carried out by a team of researchers and students at McGill of online youth groups and organizations doing arts-based HIV&AIDS awareness work. As a McGill-based student-led project, YAHAnet involves the participation of credited interns and volunteers. The YAHAnet online platform includes arts-based how-to guides; a gallery space containing youth-made artwork in video, audio, and visual form; a discussion forum focusing on issues of gender and stigma; annual school-focused competitions; and a sizable resource database of youth-centered articles and reports.

The connection between online and offline engagement is central to YAHAnet’s work. It has hosted participatory sessions and workshops at International AIDS Conferences in Mexico City, Vienna, and Washington, D.C., and organizes fund-raising and awareness-raising events at McGill. YAHAnet is also a research initiative. Social media trends and the sheer volume of data produced within many youth-driven digital projects, including UNAIDS’ recent crowdsourced HIV strategy project, are compelling reasons for researchers to tap into what young people are saying about their own health and well-being. The research arm of YAHAnet is studying how youth social networking practices can be leveraged by policy makers and health personnel to give young people a greater voice in health policy decisions.

This research project is organized through the Participatory Cultures Lab (PCL). The PCL was established in 2010 by Claudia Mitchell, a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in the Faculty of Education of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. The PCL brings Master’s and Doctoral students together around the study and use of visual tools as digital storytelling, photovoice, participatory video, participatory archiving, cellphilms, objects and things, collage, and other arts-based approaches in the process of collecting, analyzing, and working with research data. The PCL is located on the top floor of the Coach House at McGill University, 3715 Peel.

Claudia Mitchell, PhD
(514) 398-4527 Ext. 09990
Department of Integrated Studies in Education
3700 McTavish, Room 244
McGill University
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y2


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