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Understanding Youth Disaster Recovery: The Vital Role of People, Places, and Activities

ABSTRACT

As disasters escalate in frequency and severity, children and youth are among those most at risk for resulting adverse psychological, social, health, and educational effects. Although there is growing interest in the vulnerabilities and capacities of youth who have experienced disaster, research focusing on their lived experiences during the recovery period remains sparse. In response to this knowledge gap, youth between the ages of 13–22 were invited to participate in workshops spanning one to four days, where they used art, music, photography, videography, and other means to articulate their experiences of post-disaster recovery. The research took place in four disaster-affected communities in the United States and Canada, including Joplin, Slave Lake, Calgary, and High River. Youth stories revealed key people, places, and activities that supported their recovery, and the mechanisms through which those supports had a positive impact. Examining youth perspectives is important to concretize and contextualize theories of disaster recovery.

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