Youth-Led Change: A Systems Thinking Activity Toolkit | World Obesity Federation

Youth-Led Change: A Systems Thinking Activity Toolkit

Youth-Led Change: A Systems Thinking Activity toolkit by CO-CREATE

Developed through the CO-CREATE project on adolescent obesity, this Toolkit is a way to impact change and address an issue you identify in your community, for example, something that is having on negative effect on people’s health.  

Every policy starts with an idea, a vision about something that could be improved. Young people can act as powerful advocates to campaign for better policymaking. Group discussions can have far-reaching positive impacts on crucial matters, such as halting the rise in levels of adolescent obesity.  

The Toolkit is a method by which individuals can join forces and spotlight their perspectives to the wider community, acting as a catalyst for change. It features three fun activities which help you look closer at specific issues.  

The first activity is Visual Voice, where you go out in your community and take photos of objects or situations to find out which problems exist in your community.

The second activity is Systems Mapping. This is a way of looking at an issue by focusing on it as a whole, with its relationship to other advanced elements, and how it affects society, our culture and policies. In the last activity, you are invited to make your own policy idea! 

What's unique about the Youth Activity toolkit is that it’s made for youth by youth and that it contains the Activity Sheet. The activity sheet is a physical part of the toolkit where your group can put down all of your ideas! 

What is Systems Mapping?   

Systems mapping is a way to help make sense of all the messiness and details when dealing with big problems, such as the one you found during Visual Voice.

Systems mapping is similar to a mind map and shows all the important relationships between the things that influence an issue.

This can for example be used for mapping every factor that contributes to obesity in adolescence - for instance how it's often more expensive to buy healthy food than fast food. 

Download here

Toolkit and Activity Sheet


Have a problem downloading, or spot any issues on this page? Email our team at

What is the Dialogue Forum tool? 

The Dialogue Forum tool is an intergenerational and multi-actor discussion space where you develop and refine your ideas further. It was developed by EAT with Designit and CO-CREATE partners. The tool has been used by a series of Youth Alliances across Europe, and at important gatherings such as the United Nations Food Systems Summit.  

The Dialogue Forum is used in the Toolkit to include different perspectives and insights from a group of youth, adults, policymakers, or experts in a relevant field.  

You can hold a Dialogue Forum in under two hours, either using the downloadable digital pack, or a printable canvas. Young people should be at least 50% of the group to ensure a balance between young person-adult voices, and to ensure youth opinions on the topic are heard.  


Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the accordion below to find answers to some of your questions!

Have any questions not listed below? Email our team at

The toolkit's goal is for you, as an individual or a group, to find issues in your local community and develop ideas on how to change them! There is a set of three fun activities through which you develop your very own idea that can have a positive impact in your community, school, university, workplace, or beyond! 

There are three methods; Visual Voice, Systems Mapping and the Dialogue Forum. Visual Voice is an activity where you go out in your community and take pictures of the different things that interest you to start your journey towards making your policy idea. 

Systems mapping is similar to a mind map, and shows all the important relationships between the things that influence an issue. 

The Dialogue Forum is a tool you can use to discuss your policy idea in a group setting with other young people and relevant policy- and decision-makers. It helps you to understand other peoples’ views on the topic/issue, and potential actions you can take to create change. 

In the WHO EURO region, every third child is living with overweight or obesity. The COSI data study on childhood obesity has found the prevalence of overweight and obesity among boys is 31%, while among girls it is 28%.  

1 in 10 children (11%) aged 6–9 years in the surveyed 33 countries (411,000 school-aged children) never ate vegetables or did so less than once a week. 

The Toolkit can be used for developing advocacy ideas on topics such as better public health (for example, tackling rising overweight and obesity), or on other policy areas like improving education, protecting the environment, championing human rights, or you can examine an issue facing your local community such as air pollution. The choice is yours!  

Youth organisations, civil society organisations, school classes or youth groups can all benefit from CO-CREATE's Youth Advocacy Toolkit. 

The Toolkit will be translated into further languages, such as Norwegian. We will publish the download links to the Toolkit translations in this section when available. Keep an eye on this page, and CO-CREATE's social media channels for updates.  

CO-CREATE is a five-year research project which involves young people to generate policy ideas which can halt the rise of adolescent obesity. There are 14 academic, civil society organisations involved in the project, and researchers involve young people in finding out how adolescent obesity is caused, how to prevent it, and develop methods to engage & empower young people in improving health.  

The CO-CREATE teams publish research, hold Youth Alliances and Dialogue Forums, analyse policies, develop youth engagement tools, and advocacy resources (like this Toolkit!). The CO-CREATE Youth Taskforce are eight young people who represent young peoples’ views in project processes and research. They represent the project at youth events, take part in policy generation activities, and have published a Youth Declaration to call for action on obesity.  

The Youth Advocacy Toolkit was produced through the CO-CREATE project (funded by the Horizon 2020 research programme). The content was developed by, and has been led by Press – Save the Children Youth Norway, and the Toolkit was designed by the World Obesity Federation.    

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