With the ongoing changes to the way we live currently taking place, we have been asked to share a framework from the research we did with and on 13-17 year olds that highlights how they might be making sense of our current environment.

In our ongoing interactions with this age group in our peer groups, work communities and ecosystems, and our connection with the Education system, we increasingly see articles concerned about young people’s mental health in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and other timely but confronting culture shifts, we thought it might be useful to share.

For this research we were working in the Sydney Local Health District who wanted to ultimately improve the health and well-being of the young people in its area, but we think the outcomes are applicable to ‘the new normal’ as well.

As we delved into attitudes, motivations and influences on adolescents (in general, ‘how they operate’), the following building blocks for co-design were developed. They highlight key foundational themes and logic around how young people build their knowledge, create action and maintain it.

We do not pretend this is an answer or guidance, but on reflection of the themes we see a relevance to understanding where young people might be exploring and/or struggling at this time and may be a good guide for those working with young people to make sense of where we are all at today.


For more on the work we did in this project and for the sources/references see: ‘Show Me How’ – co-designing a healthy and active future with, and for young people