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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Becoming child-friendly : a participatory and post-qualitative study of a child and youth friendly community strategy Wilson, Desiree


In this dissertation I explore the complexity of efforts to make the City of New Westminster more child-friendly and the creative capacities associated with these efforts. Over a period of two years, I carried out a participatory study related with the newly adopted New Westminster Child and Youth Friendly Community (CYFC) Strategy. The study involved a collaboration between 51 children, myself, adult community members, and other (human and nonhuman) bodies in a project focused on outdoor neighbourhood play. As part of this, I also interviewed 21 people who were involved in developing and implementing the CYFC strategy. In the process of this inquiry, I increasingly took up posthumanist thinking, experimenting with various ways of engaging the questions: How does the New Westminster Child and Youth Friendly Community Strategy work with other related bodies toward change? How might it? I operated with the idea that approaching these questions through posthumanism was not only worthwhile but vital for grappling with the complexities of urban child-friendliness and imperatives to ‘make a difference’ for children in this context. Thus, this research had hybrid qualities, moving from a traditional qualitative orientation toward a more post-qualitative approach. With the idea that child-friendliness is material, discursive, embodied, and situated, this inquiry connected with topics of: outdoor play; children’s travels to and from school; child/youth engagement; urban soundscapes; weather; loitering; multi-species relations; colonial entanglements; ontological politics; and the city as a site of learning. In exploring various realities associated with the CYFC strategy, I considered how the potential for New Westminster to become more child-friendly was entangled with a complex array of more-than-human relations.

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