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Youth Optimism Up in Canada

Teens optimistic about their quality of life as adults, but struggle to feel heard: Youth Optimism Survey

Ottawa, April 17, 2013 – Most Canadian teenagers believe their glass is half full according to a new national survey commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) and MasterCard Canada.  In fact, a majority of Canadian teenagers (57 per cent) believe their quality of life as adults will surpass their parents.

Only 11 per cent expect their future quality of life to be worse than their parents, while 32 per cent anticipate their quality of life as adults to be “about the same” as their parents.

The Ipsos Reid study also shows that a strong majority of Canada’s teenagers are community minded. Eight in ten teens (80 per cent) say they are committed to giving back to the community. Additionally, 91 per cent of those surveyed believe young people have much to offer to influence positive change.

However, though they feel they have a lot of positive contributions to make to their communities, many teens felt their ideas go unheard. According to the survey, nearly half of teenagers (44 per cent) believe they are prevented from making a difference simply because no one listens to them. BBBSC in partnership with MasterCard is attempting to change that.

Inspiring the next generation of leaders at the Ottawa Youth Summit

The study’s findings are being used to spark discussion about youth leadership at the Big Brothers Big Sisters/MasterCard Youth Summit now underway in Ottawa. The 100 teens attending this unique summit are receiving youth leadership training from young Canadian entrepreneurs to inspire them to become agents of positive social change. The teens were selected from the ranks of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs based upon their strong track records of community service.

Summit delegates represent every region of Canada and each will have the opportunity to express their views on influencing positive change to Members of Parliament.

“Canada’s teenagers are our country’s next generation of leaders and they are full of ideas to inspire positive social change,” said Richard McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Global Products and Solutions at MasterCard Canada. “Their voice is strong and the Ottawa Youth Summit is a great platform for youth to share their ideas on leadership and community building. MasterCard Canada is happy to be a part of it.”

Though they might not tell you, teens DO look to adults as role models within the community

The survey reveals that teenagers generally have a sophisticated understanding of the connection between community service and role models. Almost nine in 10 (89 per cent) believe that teens with a parent or adult mentor who sets a strong example of community service are more likely to become socially engaged than those without role models.

“Parents across Canada should take great pride in these findings,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of BBBSC. “Eighty-four per cent of those surveyed report that they have positive role models who have proven to them that individuals can make a difference through their actions. This speaks to the quality of parenting in Canada and the power of mentoring to inspire young people to become socially engaged.”

This optimism, however, is tempered by the fact that two in three teenagers (66 per cent) feel highly pressured and stressed about life after high school.

Other interesting findings include:

  • Half (51 per cent) of the teenagers surveyed are optimistic about Canada’s future, while 35 per cent are unsure. Nineteen per cent are pessimistic about the country’s future.
  • Forty-one per cent are optimistic about their ability to influence Canada’s future, while 39 per cent are neutral and 19 per cent are pessimistic.
  • More than eight in ten (84 per cent) are confident in their ability to meet whatever challenges the future brings.
  • Eighty-two per cent have faith in their ability to influence positive change.Nine in ten (91 per cent) think that social engagement is important to improving our quality of life.
  • Ninety-two per cent believe that influencing positive change in communities should be a priority for all Canadians, including teenagers.
  • Ninety-three per cent think that individuals have the power to shape the future if they choose to get involved.
  • Almost eight in ten (78 per cent) believe they are personally responsible for creating a better future.

When it comes to responsibility for positive social change, the majority of teenagers believe that social media has an important role to play.

“Fifty-six per cent of the teenagers think that social media organizations are responsible, along with governments, corporations and educators, for building a better future,” notes MacDonald. “Today’s teenagers appear set to put their generation’s unique stamp on influencing change.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters and MasterCard Youth Optimism Survey

was conducted by Ipsos Reid between March 5th and March 11th, 2013. For this survey, a sample of 502 Canadian teenagers, aged 16-19, from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within ± 5 percentage points had all Canadian teenagers, aged 16-19, been polled.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

For one hundred years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been making a positive difference in the lives of Canada’s youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs.BBBSC volunteer mentors teach by example the importance of giving back, of staying in school, and of respecting family, peers and community.

BBBSC provides quality mentoring services for more than 33,000 children and teenagers. The community-based youth mentoring organization currently has over 25,000 volunteer mentors working at 123 agencies that serve children in over 1,000 communities across the country.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington

Since 1921, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington has been making a positive difference in the lives of our communities’ youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs.

We believe in the value and values of mentoring. In 2012, 1,200 local youth were serviced in one-to-one and group mentoring programs both in-school and outside-of-school.


We currently are incurring a long waitlist, and are in need of volunteer mentors.

  • Are you 18 years of age or older?
  • Are you interested in positively benefitting the life of a child?
  • Do you have 2-3 hours a week to dedicate to a rewarding friendship?

Click here to apply to be a mentor today!