Migrant youth and wellbeing: Assessing young people’s participation in a community-based welcome program during the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract

Background.

Relocation and resettlement are often accompanied by physical, mental, and social challenges for migrant youth. Community-based programs have the potential to benefit their wellbeing and resettlement. However, there is limited research on the mechanisms by which these interventions work from the perspective of youth, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. By including youth’s lived experiences, community-based programs may gain a richer understanding of how to best deliver their programs and contribute to the wellbeing of migrant youth during the pandemic.

Objectives.

This study aimed to:
1) Describe migrant youth’s experiences participating in Say Ça!, a community-based welcome program in Montreal, during the pandemic; and
2) Explore the underlying processes that contribute to migrant youth’s wellbeing and resettlement from the perspectives of service users, and how these have been affected by the pandemic.

Methods.

Six youth from Say Ça! participated in a photo novella project to reflect on their experiences in the program during COVID-19 and how these contributed to their wellbeing. Semi-structured online interviews were conducted to document the meaning behind the journal entries and accompanying images.

Results.

Participants identified challenges and benefits on youth wellbeing of engaging in the program during the pandemic. Lessons are drawn on the underlying processes of effective community-based welcome programs and necessary changes to best respond to the needs of migrant youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours, recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which peoples of the world now gather. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

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