Region-wide youth well-being data released by the Children and Youth Planning Table

Posted on Monday January 22, 2024

Waterloo Region – The Children and Youth Planning Table of Waterloo Region has released data from the 2023 Youth Impact Survey (YIS). In May 2023, the region-wide survey launched with the goal to hear from a diverse cross-section of youth aged 9-18 about their well-being.

“The Youth Impact Survey is an incredibly valuable tool for decision makers, organizations, and anyone else in Waterloo Region. It tells us how youth are doing, what they want to see in their community, and shows us where we need to focus our efforts to make the region better not only for its youngest members – but for everyone,” said Karen Redman, Chair of the Region of Waterloo.

The Youth Impact Survey Data Briefs present data and insights compiled from 1,867 young people living in Waterloo Region. The survey is based on the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being, a framework developed by UNICEF Canada to better understand how children and youth are doing across the country. Some topics covered by questions in the survey include: belonging, mental and emotional health, connection to the environment, participation in the community, and more.

The CYPT, in partnership with UNICEF Canada, United Way Waterloo Region Communities, Waterloo Region Community Foundation, and the FamilyPsycle Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, ran the Youth Impact Survey in Waterloo Region through the Spring of 2023.

“The Youth Impact Survey is more than a survey. It’s about continuous engagement of youth voices,” said Alison Pearson, Manager of the CYPT. “Once we have the aggregate data, we can begin to disaggregate it and get deeper insights into the experiences of diverse populations of young people. But it doesn’t end there. After that, we begin to engage youth with the data by holding Sense Making Sessions, which are youth focus groups to digest and think about the data. Based on what young people say, we compile a list of concrete actions that youth want to see in their community.”

Now that the aggregate data is released, the CYPT Backbone Team will disaggregate the data into subpopulations of young people and will release Disaggregated Snapshots. Last year, the CYPT released eight of them based on: geography, age, gender, racial identity, experiences of homelessness, and more.


Fast Facts:


  • 1,876 youth from diverse backgrounds completed the Waterloo Region Youth Impact Survey between April 30 and June 9, 2023.
  • Aggregate data suggests that 71% of all YIS respondents said they felt a very strong or somewhat strong sense of belonging to their community. This is a 7% increase from last year.
  • UNICEF Canada defines belonging as “feeling loved and supported and having mutually caring and respectful relationships.” This love and support can come from many sources including friends, family, teachers, pets, and people in the community. Locally, when we think about belonging for children and youth, we recognize the importance of equity, relationships and attachment, and feeling valued, heard and included.
  • Only 21% of young people in 2023 felt isolated from others in the community, compared to 31% in 2021.
  • Almost half of those who completed the survey experienced discrimination more often in 2023, most frequently about their physical appearance.
  • The number of youth that described their mental health as fair or poor stayed the same from 2021 — almost half of those who completed the survey.
  • More youth go to school or bed hungry at least sometimes, compared to 2021.


Quotes from Youth Impact Survey Respondents:

“I felt like I was actually given a chance to tell the community what I've been thinking.”

—2023 YIS Respondent


“I liked the fact that it finally seemed as though someone cares about youth in Waterloo Region for once. I felt like my opinions were silenced for so long but now someone wanted to hear them.”

—2023 YIS Respondent


“It’s a good step to a better future and asking the people affected is a step on the right direction.”

—2023 YIS Respondent


About the Children and Youth Planning Table:

The Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) is a member-driven partnership with over 65 Voting Member Organizations across Waterloo Region. The CYPT works to improve the well-being of children and youth through a system of coordinated and effective services that are supported by capacity building initiatives. Recognizing the complex challenges and issues related to the well-being of children and youth, the CYPT operates through a collective impact model seeking to promote the shared vision of “Happy, healthy children and youth — today and tomorrow.”



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