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Giving young people a voice: the instrument My Path

Publication date: 01 September 2013

The ‘Disability Studies: Diversity in Participation’ research group has developed a new instrument called ‘My Path’. The aim is to give youth a voice so that they can take charge of their own life and future. The instrument has originally been developed for and with 16+ youngsters living in a residential institution and who have multiple complex problems.

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Theoretical framework

Autonomy is an important developmental task in adolescence. In this framework, autonomy is defined as making voluntary self-endorsed decisions, and acting accordingly. A basic assumption is that autonomy is a requirement for participation, which means that the measurement instrument assesses the development of participation according to the youngster’s wishes and needs. In order to achieve this, the instrument stimulates reflection so that they find and express their own voice. Another basic assumption is that the problems of these youngsters represent complex social phenomena, which cannot exclusively be understood from an individual-medical model.

Method of examination

We applied a responsive research design. The aim was to design an instrument that will help to improve daily practice of care. To achieve this aim, the objectives, content and form of the instrument were designed in mutual interaction with the various stakeholders, first of all the youngsters themselves.

The study ran through four stages:

  1. Exploration of the lived experience of the youngsters,
  2. Exploration of the design specifications for the instrument.
  3. Designing, testing and adjusting the instrument
  4. Researching the applicability in actual practice.

At the start, two youth consultants were recruited who were consulted prior to and during the research. Their advice has been incorporated into the research.

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