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The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted youth across Canada.

 

Here, this graph demonstrates youth responses when asked about their overall health. We can see that the number of youths who said that their health was very poor/ poor increased after Covid-19, and that the number of youths who said that their health was very good/good decreased after Covid-19. (before/since)

 

A youth from Surrey, BC, says:

“I worry about the mental and physical health aspect where it’s like, because we’ve been staying home for the majority of time, that can take a toll on our mental health and physical health not being able to exercise that much by walking or just doing regular task, or errands.”

 

Whoever you are, I agree with you. Many recreational facilities and gyms have been impacted with reduced hours. I also worry for the youths needing to talk to mental health professionals, but who are unable to reach a psychiatrist for financial or accessibility reasons.


Here is a comparison graph showing the changes to youth’s access to public health services across the Greater Vancouver Area, before and after Covid-19.

 

We see that the two major changes affecting youth were the hours available of services and stigma.

So then what can cities do to help youth take care of their mental health? I personally wanted to learn more about Vancouver. I saw that Metro Vancouver has 145,000,000 square meters with leaves, trees, and nature. Ranking 3rd in Canada, just after Edmonton and Quebec City.

My question is, how are youths in Vancouver leveraging all this green space to help their mental health?

In fact, youth are using green spaces to stay connected and to stay active. Green space helps to alleviate the strain that isolation has put on youth during this pandemic. A strain that has become especially isolating and difficult as everything moves online. A quote from a youth in Calgary captures the sentiment perfectly:

“everyone should have access to green space and it’s so positive, especially during this time. Outdoor space is so valuable and so important for mental health and to be able to have social interactions, so I’d say it’ a super important factor for the city.”

Speaking from experience there is something so peaceful and powerful about greenery.

I like to take my dog to the park, pictured below! It’s a place I find that nothing bad could ever happen to you. I believe it is powerful to share that youth, like me, appreciate their local parks and outdoor spaces, especially those youths who live in cities with curfews (as parks can be the only place left to go after hours).

In ending, it is my hope that cities ensure accessible green spaces as we tackle a post-pandemic city recovery.

 

 

Tiffany Ding
Data Analyst
Simon Fraser University


Resources

PIVOT 2020 Hub:

  • Interview > Worries about City and COVID-19 recovery > Surrey
  • Interview > Access to Public green space – General > Calgary
  • Survey > Q78 a/ Q78b > Vancouver CMA
  • Index > Public Green Space > Square meters with leaves, trees, nature > Vancouver

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