The design of education for youth is often conducted without asking for a youth perspective. A focus group of Canadian youth activists was conducted to provide insight into the design of a new youth environmental leadership program being developed by GreenLearning Canada. Design features recommended by youth overlap with themes revealed in the literature on sustainability, environmental, experiential, and ecojustice education. While results affirm many authors' views, the recommendations present program challenges. Youth recommended an extended experiential program that is participant driven. Diversity, safety, choice, and fun were themes, and youth valued gaining practical skills for taking action in their own lives and communities. Youth recommended a community-oriented approach, and suggested the program must model sustainability in action. Youth discussed a transfer of learning, and offered ideas for follow-up programming and support.
Research results have formed the foundation for the Redfish School of Change – an accredited field school that will deliver its first semester in spring 2009, in partnership with the University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies and Pearson College. The Redfish School of Change is designed for young people who want to lead the way in creating ecological sustainability and social equity in their communities. This six-week intensive program includes workshops, field trips, action projects, wilderness expedition, mentorship, and post-program support. Living and learning with 16 youth, students will travel and visit bioregions across southern British Columbia. They will gain the capacity and confidence to lead their communities on a variety of social and environmental challenges.