Feb 26, 2019 Return to Headlines

Coquitlam Plans New Approach to Youth Recreation

by Michelle Frilund |

COQUITLAM, BC, Feb. 26, 2019 – Today’s youth have vastly different recreation needs than they did 15 years ago, and Coquitlam is working on a plan to address them.

The City has consulted with hundreds of youth and adults as part of the update of its Parks, Recreation and Culture Youth Strategy, hearing that crammed schedules, over-use of technology and other factors have left many young people today exhausted and lacking a healthy life balance.

Strategy To Guide Recreation Services for Youth
It’s a dramatically different landscape than what youth experienced in 2006, when Coquitlam last updated the strategy that guides the City’s recreation services for youth (11-18 years old) and young adults (19-24 years old). Research and consultation for the overhaul began last spring and wrapped up this month. 

The City’s next step is to develop a draft strategy by late spring 2019 based on a year’s worth of information-gathering, including an internal audit and interviews, reviews of literature and best practices, focus groups, in-person surveys of more than 300 youth and young adult recreation users, and an online community survey of more than 630 people, almost half of whom were youth or young adults. 

Consultation with the public revealed that while Coquitlam offers a variety of youth opportunities and has many engaged young residents, there are gaps in program delivery and a need to develop services that meet today’s needs. The City’s research, as well as academic studies, show that many youth and young adults are feeling the impact of too much screen time and not enough sleep, exercise or wellness activity.  

Community Input Will Inform Strategy Development
As it develops a draft strategy, the challenge for Coquitlam will be to find ways to deliver programs and services that improve youths’ well-being while not burdening their – or their parents’ – already full schedules. 

In essence, the City heard, youth and young adults are looking for convenient, low-cost and engaging opportunities with flexibility in times, location and commitment levels. They also want to connect with peers who have shared interests and with positive adult leaders who recognize their abilities, understand their needs and can support them in their goals.

Four key themes emerged from the public consultation:

  • Life balance: Only a quarter of youth and a third of parents or adults surveyed said youth have a good life balance, and many noted that youth have less and less time for recreation. Suggestions included offering activities in various locations, and closer to home, school and youth hangouts. 
  • Active participation: Drop-ins are the most popular way for youth to participate, with pass sales on the rise in recent years. Participation in registered programs tends to drop off after age 14. Suggestions included lower costs, more social time, more recreation-level (non-competitive) activities, and “activity destinations” offering various options such as doing homework, socializing, snacking or joining in a drop-in program.
  • Positive connections: A third of the youth surveyed said the best part of a program is meeting new and current friends. Youth also appreciated connections with caring adults. Opportunities could include more intentional facilitation of social connections in programs, or development of clubs for those with shared interests.
  • Engagement and leadership: Some youth were also interested in developing leadership skills and being more involved in decision-making. Opportunities could include engaging youth in developing and design programs and services for their peers.

PRC staff are expected to present a draft youth strategy to Council in late spring. Information about the project can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/youthplan.

Media contact:
Carmen Gonzalez
Manager, Policy & Business Services