A true representation of our community

Karen Ferris, Youth Agencies Alliance

Karren Ferris
Karen Ferris, Director of Youth Agencies Alliance.

In my role representing a network of 18 youth serving non-profit organizations, my first connection to Vital Signs was in 2014 when The Winnipeg Foundation conducted Youth Vital Signs. During the consultation process for that project, Youth Agencies Alliance was invited to bring youth from our agencies to be part of the advisory committee. That was an indication to us that The Foundation was really going about this the right way – ensuring that the target population had meaningful involvement in the design of the project. The resulting report was a true representation of what we had known in the community for some time, but put some meaningful statistics and stories behind it. It’s this type of work, the research and analysis, that community organizations rarely have the capacity to do on our own. When a prominent Foundation is resourced to conduct projects like Vital Signs, and they involve the right people, from the beginning, the outcome is something citizens can see themselves in, and can own. It helps to validate the work that community groups are doing, and it’s a tool we can use to advocate for necessary changes.

All of these sentiments are true about Winnipeg’s Vital Signs 2017; this one with a wider scope looking at the vitality of our city. The task was great, but The Winnipeg Foundation held true to the process and once again gathered stakeholders from different sectors across the city. I was humbled to be asked to join the Advisory Committee and I am proud of the report that was produced. It has sparked conversations in the community and I encourage everyone to read it, find some piece of it that speaks to you, and start some of these conversations yourself. The first step towards real transformation in our city is an understanding of the realities that all Winnipeggers face – and Winnipeg’s Vital Signs is a valuable tool to facilitate that learning.

Thank you to The Winnipeg Foundation, the individuals on the Advisory Committee, and everyone who participated by sharing their voice.

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