OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to identify concepts of health and well-being important to Aboriginal children and youth. These concepts were necessary for the development of a culturally appropriate measure of health. METHODS: We completed 4 community consultation sessions, 4 advisory committee meetings, and 6 full-day focus groups within the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. The focus groups engaged Aboriginal children and youth via relevant cultural teachings, a photography exercise combined with a community bicycling tour, and detailed discussions of health and well-being using photovoice. The process was guided by a conceptual model: the Medicine Wheel. The participants placed their photos on a wall mural and identified their most important concepts. These concepts were synthesized through expert consensus into items and reviewed by the broader community. RESULTS: The participants ranged in age from 8.2 to 17.7 years (mean age=12.3). Through innovative methods, children and youth identified 206 concepts representing the 4 quadrants of the Medicine Wheel: emotional, spiritual, physical and mental. These concepts were refocused, in collaboration with the community, to create a new 60-item measure of health and well-being that was primarily positive in focus. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates the success of implementing a unique process of photovoice in combination with bicycling and informed by an Aboriginal framework. The results confirm the distinct conceptualization of health and well-being in this population and underscore the necessity for a culturally appropriate measure. This study also produced a first draft of the Aboriginal Children’s Health and Well-being Measure (ACHWM).
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