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Rural Youth Visions of Healing and Recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic: A YPAR study on Disaster Resilience


This project sought to understand the experiences of Latino/a/x youth (ages 10-25 years old) during the SARS-COVID-2 pandemic in three Californian agricultural communities. The perspectives of these youth are particularly important to record given that they live in communities disproportionately impacted by environmental injustice, inadequate housing, racism, and a digital divide. In addition, most residents in these communities are “essential workers” in temporary or seasonal jobs in agriculture or related industries. Due to the essential nature of the work in these areas, many families were exposed to Covid-19. While recognizing the many challenges these youth have encountered throughout the pandemic, the goal of this project was to understand how the youth experienced the pandemic, and what a youth-led vision for a just recovery would look like. To gather this data we conducted six focus groups on zoom. The research is grounded in Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) methods, and uses resilience theory to situate the findings within a broader conversation on disaster recovery. Our results showed that the youth were very concerned about the health of their families and communities throughout the pandemic, many of whom did get sick and did not have access to PPE or paid sick leave. The youth also experienced a lot of difficulty with the online learning format. However the youth also also spoke to the strong social networks they are a part of, and how they had been involved in various community recovery projects. This study revealed larger themes of structural inequality present in rural agricultural communities, and the impact this has had on youth during the pandemic. However, it also illustrated how youth take action in the face of compounding local and global problems, and build solidarity along the way.

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