Hey, Hey, Hey—Listen to What I Gotta Say: Songs Elevate Youth Voice in Alberta Wildfire Disaster Recovery
Keywords:Music creation, community-engaged research, youth voice, disaster recovery
Music pulses emotion in its lyrics, its tune, and in the creative process.A song can move people to dance, to reflect, and—often—to act. For an artist, a song’s creation can also reveal and clarify one’s own emotions. When people listen, a song can legitimize that the artists have something valuable to say—especially when the artists are youth who believe their ideas need a wider audience. This article talks about the power of song for youth recovery post-disaster in the context of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster in Alberta, Canada. It highlights the use of music in a community-engaged research project that aimed to understand and amplify youth ideas for improving their community. The article draws on the value of Youth-Adult Partnerships, where eight youth worked with a professional recording studio in the wildfire-affected community to produce original songs for a youth-centric social media campaign. Focusing on the youths’ songs and personal experiences of their development, the article offers ways forward for wildfire recovery through processes that strengthen youth voice and wellbeing. The community-engaged research process underscores the power of music creation as an empowering method for enhancing youth engagement and reveals youths’ insights through their musical reflections on their priorities for a resilient community after disaster.
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