Community-based organizations need increased support to provide relevant, inclusive and appropriate programming aimed at improving sexual health outcomes for the youth they serve. The increase in HIV and STI rates, and decrease in sexual health knowledge among youth, combined with the multiple and ever-changing needs of Toronto’s diverse youth communities, demonstrate a need to change the current state of sexual health services and information available to youth. In 2009, Planned Parenthood Toronto released the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS), the result of a long research process to help enrich both the quality and quantity of sexual health information available to Toronto teens and improve the ways in which sexual health promotion and care are delivered.
We adopted a community-based participatory research approach and involved teens in all aspects of the study. Between December 2006 and August 2007, we conducted 90 workshops in community-based settings, collecting 1,216 surveys from a diverse cross-section of youth ages 13 to 18+. As one of the largest and most diverse studies of young people’s sexual health needs ever done in Canada, TTS provided a space for youth voices that are often unheard. In 2008, we held 13 focus groups with 80 service providers representing 55 agencies to discuss the research findings and brainstorm recommendations for change.
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