Frequently Asked Questions

Youth Impact Survey

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The Youth Impact Survey (YIS) is our community’s opportunity to hear directly from young people about their own well-being. It’s 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. Click here to read more about how this work came about.

When live, the YIS is open to any and all children and youth aged 9 to 18 years old that live in Waterloo Region. When the survey is live, we especially encourage children and youth with marginalized identities to complete the survey–we want to hear from you!

The YIS is run by the Children and Youth Planning Table of Waterloo Region. We’re a community collaborative working together to improve child and youth well-being across our community. However, we have many partners who make this work possible. Click here to see all of the partners involved in this work.

We anticipate to run the YIS on a three-year cycle. The next survey is anticipated to go live in 2026.

We ask young people a variety of questions about their well-being, such as questions about their:



  • Sense of belonging: belonging in the community, support from family, support from teachers, participation in activities/groups in the community
  • Life at home: perceptions of family’s social/economic position, experiences of housing, food and economic insecurity
  • Expressing oneself and managing one’s life: managing responsibilites, feeling listened to, feeling included in decision making, freedom to express views with family and peers, engaging in opportunites to express views and opinions, access to internet
  • Activities: amount of time: using devices, playing video games, watching TV, engaged in physical activities, engaged in outdoor activities, working, helping out at home, and sleeping; perceptions about having enough time for self; reasons for not having enough time for recreational activities
  • Safety: neighbourhood safety, experiences of bullying, involvement in physical altercations, experiences of discrimination, ease at talking with others about problems, perceptions of law enforcement and legal system
  • Life as a Student: feelings about school, perceptions about amount of schoolwork, belonging at school, knowledge about children’s rights
  • Health: perceptions of physical and mental health, experiences of physical and mental health symptoms, substance use, regular health care provider, dental care, diagnosis of a mood or anxiety disorder, perceptions about the quality of and access to health and mental health services in the community, perceptions of the importance of virtues, having a purpose, and spirituality/religion
  • Connection to the Environment: perceptions about: the quality of the natural environment in their community, recreation and cultural opportunities, air and water quality, experiences of adverse environmental events
  • Feeling Happy and Respected: general life satisfaction, living best possible life, feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Personal Characteristics: age, grade, gender identity, sexual orientation (only ages 14-18), birth country, length of time living in Canada, Canadian citizenship, Indigenous identity, ethnic/racial background, disability, city of residence, family composition, first language, religious/spiritual affiliation, ethnic origin
  • Perspectives on wellbeing: Identify things that had the biggest impact on well-being and suggestions about how to improve well-being in the community
All of the questions are optional and voluntary.

So far, we’ve run the YIS in 2020, 2021 and 2023. You can view all the data reports available here. (The 2023 data reports will be coming out in the near future.) To see how we’ve put into action what the data told us, check out our Data in Action Report.

Info for Youth

When the survey is live, you get…



  1. Volunteer hours (aka community involvement hours)
  2. A chance to win some really cool prizes 
  3. To help make your community better

No. All of the questions are optional, so you can pick and choose what you wanna answer and what you wanna skip. You can also back out whenever just by not submitting the survey. Any answers you do submit are completely anonymouswe won’t have any way of knowing it’s you.

Depends on how many questions you decide to skip ;). But other youth who have filled it out have told us it took them between 15 to 40 minutes.

You only need to do it once. Completing the survey twice won’t give you a better chance of winning a prize or give you extra volunteer hours, so you’re better off using the time for something else! 🙂

No, you’ll need to do all at once. The reason for this is because we don’t track any identifying things about you, so we have no way of knowing where you left off.

We share what we learn back out into the community using things like reports, presentations, etc. Want to see what we mean? Click here.


We also take it back to youth like you to tell us what the results mean and what needs to happen next. We take this info, along with the results, to community partners so they can make things better for you and other children and youth in the community.

Right now, it’s available in English and French, but we’re working really hard to make it available in other languages in the future. Our consent forms, however, have been translated into multiple languages common in Waterloo region.

The Youth Impact Survey (and the reports we create based on it) touch on some big things in your life! If you need someone to talk to, here are some options for you:

  • Front Door (for youth): 519-749-2932
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868
  • Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region: 519-804-1097
  • Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247)

If these aren’t the kinds of thing you’re looking for, you can find more options here.

We are a small but mighty team working to get volunteer letters to everyone who requests one. This letter will include all the info you need. We’ll be sending out the letter after the survey closes, starting the week of June 26th. If you don’t get your letter by the beginning of August, reach out to Monika ( or DM us on instagram (@CYPTWR).

Info for Parents/Guardians

Too often, decisions about children and youth are made without their involvement. But no one understands their experiences better than them! When your child completes the survey and tells us how they’re really doing, they help decision-makers in the community provide better services and programs. As well, they have the opportunity to earn volunteer hours, as well as enter a draw to win some incredible prizes.

The risks of participating are minimal. Some questions revolve around mental health, experiences of discrimination, experiences of homelessness, and other areas that impact child and youth well-being. Although they aren’t intended to do so, these questions may make some children uncomfortable, as they may be difficult to read, and/or remind them of challenging personal experiences. These questions may also spark difficult conversations with you as the guardian.


Please note that all the questions are optional. Your child can skip any question they don’t wish to answer.


We also encourage all children, youth, and families to prioritize their own well-being when completing the survey. If needed, please reach out to any one of the following resources for support:


Front Door (for youth) – 519-749-2932

Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868

Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region – 519-804-1097

Here 24/7 – 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247)

All of the answers provided in the survey are entirely anonymous. Your child will never be asked for their name or any other identifiable information. Additionally, when the University of Waterloo reviews the information, they remove any responses that could even potentially be linked to a specific respondent. As such, all of the data that we (the Children and Youth Planning Table) receive and put out into the community is completely anonymous.

When we ask about gender identity and about other aspects of identity (sexual orientation, race, etc.), we have the opportunity to see the important well-being differences between subgroups of young people. However, the identity information is never tied to a specific child. Whatever information your child chooses to share about their identity is grouped together with other responses.

The Background Info

UNICEF Canada had been working to develop the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being to measure child and youth well-being across 9 different domains. In 2018, UNICEF Canada approached the Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) to be their community partner in developing a child and youth well-being survey that could be used across Canada to collect local data for the Index. Of course, we said yes!



Through 2018, 2019 and 2020 UNICEF Canada, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and CYPT partnered to design the first Community Child and Youth Well-being Survey. We connected with youth across Waterloo Region to help make this happen: asking about the domains, getting input into questions, feedback on the survey tool, and how to promote. Youth even named the survey in our community. In 2020, the Youth Impact Survey was born!

In 2020, for the pilot, we had just under 300 children and youth complete the survey. In 2021, our first official launch, we heard from 1,074 children and youth.

Youth have been involved with the YIS from the beginning! In February 2020, the Children and Youth Planning Table hosted an event for youth, youTHINK, in which youth co-developed the survey by:

  • Validating survey questions
  • Developing the survey tool
  • Testing the survey
  • Providing direction for marketing the survey to children and youth


In addition to completing the YIS itself, each cycle, youth have a chance to provide feedback and suggestions for improving the YIS the next time around. And it doesn’t end there! Youth are involved in reviewing the data (sensemaking sessions), and provide suggestions and input into how we can put this data into action. Finally, the Children and Youth Planning Table has 3 youth hired who work with us to promote the YIS, to co-host sense-making sessions, and more.

Young people have been instrumental and invaluable to the YIS. Below we’ve named just some of the direct contributions they’ve made. We wouldn’t be able to do this work without young people at the table.



  • UNICEF Canada calls it the Child and Youth Well-being Survey, but in our community it’s the Youth Impact Survey. Our name was suggested and voted on by youth. Halton Region loved the name so much they called theirs the Youth Impact Survey too!
  • The pilot of the survey asked youth to pick from a drop down list of 3 gender options. Youth shared feedback that this didn’t feel inclusive, and suggested that it be an open ended question so children and youth could tell us. And in 2021, the question was changed! 
  • From the feedback survey, we heard that youth wanted to see links to community resources that related to the different domains. We are somewhat limited to changes we can make to the actual survey tool. We weren’t able to include them in the survey itself, but we did add in some resources to the Youth Impact Survey website pages.
  • In sense-making sessions, youth were clear on what actions they want to see from adults in the community. The Children and Youth Planning Table heard their feedback and with it, created the Data in Action resource.

The Legal Stuff

In 2021, the YIS included over 100 data points. The data points included in our reports (and especially in the disaggregated Snapshots) were prioritized based on ongoing discussions with young people and with the Children and Youth Planning Table membership. We also focused on data that, through statistical testing, suggested that there were notable differences between subgroups. Likewise, there are many data points not included in our briefs where there are smaller differences between the subgroups. In many cases, all subgroups expressed similar levels of self-perceived positive or negative outcomes.

Given the large number of respondents and their diverse composition, the YIS reflects a reasonable cross-section of children and youth in Waterloo Region.


In research terms, we used non-random or non-probability sampling techniques, such as convenience and snowball sampling (this explains how we reached out to our respondents). As there are limitations in our ability to use alternative random sampling

techniques, the individuals making up the final sample cannot be considered representative of all children and youth in Waterloo Region.

Since we recognize that the YIS does not capture the experiences and input of all children and youth in Waterloo Region, we consider the results of the survey as an important starting point in better understanding the diverse needs of children and youth in Waterloo Region.

Have a question that’s not answered above? Please feel free to reach out to Sevil!