RYSE Project

Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments

About the RYSE Project

Oil and gas production and climate change have large impacts on social, economic and environmental systems that affect young people’s mental health and overall wellbeing. To better understand these complex relationships at both ends of the carbon cycle (production and consumption), the five-year multinational CIHR funded Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments (RYSE) research project will study the resilience of young people in Canada and South Africa.

Research Sites

Drayton Valley, Canada

Secunda, South Africa

Zamdela, South Africa

Year 1
Community engagement and youth-centric participatory research and advocacy.

This phase involved a range of participatory qualitative methods to identify and explore the contextually and culturally specific impacts of oil and gas extraction and refinement on youth resilience and that of their communities.

Participatory Research Methods:

  • Photovoice
  • Digital storytelling
  • Body mapping
  • Art and Play-based multi-media approaches
Year 2-4
Youth Survey, Biological Data Collection, and Ecological Data Collection

(a) A youth-informed resilience survey was conducted.

(b) Stress biomarkers, including hair cortisol and DHEA were measured over time in youth to investigate the inter-generational effects of chronic stress exposure on young people’s biological systems.

(c) With young people as citizen scientists, we conducted assessments of environmental resilience that included identification of monitoring points in relation to potential pollution sources affecting water and air quality. Long-term fluctuations in various pollutants that impact environmental health were then  statistically evaluated for trends.

(d) In collaboration with local youth, and under the mentorship of the research team, assessments of each community’s resilience was conducted through interviews and focus group discussions with elders to investigate economic development, social and cultural capital, communication patterns, and community competence when dealing with crises.

Year 5
Knowledge Mobilization

Data analysis with an emphasis on seeking convergence in the findings is ongoing. Strong emphasis is placed on developing training materials and reporting back to communities.

Youth-led knowledge mobilization strategies are being implemented at both research sites in Canada and South Africa to share the RYSE results available to date with relevant stakeholders in creative and meaningful ways that will have a concrete, positive impact on the two communities.


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