Fostering Rural Youth Wellbeing through Afterschool Programs: The Case of Fusion Youth and Technology Centre, Ingersoll, Ontario


  • Heather Cross Conestoga College
  • Al C. Lauzon SEDRD, University of Guelph


Rural youth face many challenges and risks to their wellbeing. One means of mitigating the risks rural youth experience, is through the provision of afterschool programs. This study reports on adult perceptions of how participation in an afterschool program—Fusion Youth and Technology Centre—affects rural youth wellbeing. A qualitative study was undertaken in which nine staff members, three program administrators, and six knowledgeable adult community members were interviewed to determine how they perceived the impact that participation in Fusion had on the wellbeing of rural youth. Three broad themes were identified that contributed to enhanced rural youth wellbeing: (1) engaging youth through an eclectic mix of programs and activities; (2) building relationships and connections; and (3) a place for youth. The results of this study were then contrasted with an earlier study that examined the perceptions of youth who participated in Fusion. There was a corroboration of all themes between studies with the exception of enhanced community relationships. The conclusion is that participating in Fusion Youth and Technology Centre contributes positively to the wellbeing of rural youth. This then raises a number of questions that rural communities need to ask themselves if they are serious about promoting the wellbeing of the youth in their communities. Keywords: youth, rural, health, wellbeing, afterschool programs

Author Biographies

Heather Cross, Conestoga College

Heather is currently a professor in Nursing at Conestoga College

Al C. Lauzon, SEDRD, University of Guelph

Al Lauzon is currently a professor in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. His interests are in rural transformation and is currently involved in projects related to rural SMEs and innovation, the development of rural social enterprises and afterschool programs and rural youth.