Ongoing Project:

An Exploration of Integration Journeys and Well-being:
A YPAR Project with Syrian Refugee Youth

Researchers: Helene Berman1 and Yasmin Hussain2
Affiliation: University of Western Ontario1 and the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI) 2
Research Partner: MRCSSI
Keywords: Syrian refugee youth, participatory action research, photovoice, integration, well-being, identity, belonging, resilience


Objective: This study aims to engage Syrian refugee youth in a youth participatory action research (YPAR) process that explores their integration experiences to better understand protective factors, challenges, and vulnerabilities that shape their well-being, identity, and belonging. The proposed study will integrate narrative and expressive arts-based methodologies.

Justification: The YPAR process serves to center youth and supports a research process wherein refugee youth experience research as a resilience promoting process.

Practical goal: This study will enhance our understanding of the diverse experience of integration among Syrian refugee youth, as well as identify protective factors and factors/ contexts of vulnerability and identify strategies and supports that enhance supportive environments for refugee youth within the community, school, and home.

Primary audience: Service providers, community members, academics, policy makers, and refugee youth


This study uses a youth participatory action research (YPAR) process that engages Syrian youth, aged 16 to 22, as co-researchers to examine their integration experiences. A socio-ecological framework is used to explore integration experiences and well-being within contexts of family and peer relationships, schooling, and community belonging. An intersectional lens is used to better understand diverse experiences of integration with respect to gender, age, class, and pre-migration experiences. Eight Syrian refugee youth (4 men and 4 women) will be engaged as co-researchers and co-creators of the research process and methodologies. Focus groups will be facilitated in collaboration with the refugee youth co-researchers. An invitation to participate in a process of photo-voice research will be extended to focus group participants.

This study asks the following questions:

  1. What protective factors and contexts of vulnerability shape the social integration experiences of Syrian refugee youth?
  2. How can supportive environments (community, school and home) be enhanced to strengthen protective factors and support refugee youth in experiencing increased resilience?

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