Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health

The team at CEHE is excited to be joined by 20 outstanding Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health . Chosen based on their exceptional leadership in research, policy, and practice, these Knowledge Leaders, from communities across the nation, spent a week learning from each other and working together to find new ways to tackle pressing inequities in children’s environmental health. The program centered on building an approach called equity focused knowledge translation (EqKT) – a way of “doing” knowledge work in ways that can position groups to be more reflexive in their collective knowledge practices.

Over the course of a week, CEHE Knowledge Leaders heard from community members, scholars and activists, visited numerous community settings, and most importantly, worked long hours to develop novel ideas to seed collaborative initiatives which they planned to “grow” after the course.

As their first joint action, CEHE Knowledge Leaders have taken on five key challenges in children’s environmental health. Over the coming months, small teams of CEHE Knowledge Leaders will work within their home organizations and communities, increasing their capacity to collaborate across both geographic distances and institutional barriers to confront these major Canadian issues. Please visit this site often to check for updates on their progress and innovative ideas that promise to transform the way in which we do equity work in Canada.

The five priority initiatives of our Knowledge Leaders include:

1. Under Your Belt

Focused on building inclusive approaches for children’s environmental health equity assessment, this project uses a toolbox method to community engagement. Knowledge Leaders are developing an efficient, online database of equity-focused tools in support of researchers, community advocates and policy an program developers and will include: health equity assessment tools, walkability audits and healthy school checklists. The goal of the project is to promote equity through an open and accessible database in which tools can be both searched, shared and reviewed as they are put into action.

Knowledge Leader Team: Tin Vo, Linor David, Caryn Thompson, Andre-Anne Parent

2. Bonding Through Bars

Through an international symposium in Canada, this project will set a research agenda to explore prisons as environmental health settings for children of incarcerated mothers. The goal of the project is to improve the intergenerational health outcomes of both incarcerated mothers and their children and to also explore human rights through a settings-based approach. The project team has already identified several funding opportunities and an advisory team in support of this project.

Knowledge Leader Team: Samantha Sarra, Kirsten Hargreaves.

3. Where the Children Play

This Toronto based project focuses on overcoming inner city nature deficits through the creation and expansion of child and youth centered green spaces in downtown Toronto. The project will engage vulnerable communities, especially newcomer Canadians, in creating and endorsing naturalized play areas and natural habitats.

Knowledge Leader Team: Carolina G’ala, Nancy McGee

4. Reclaiming Balance: Developing a First Nations’ Children’s Environmental Health Equity Assessment Tool

Working with local First Nation Leaders of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak to determine community needs and wishes, this research project combines traditional environmental health empirical research methods with First Nations methodologies to develop a health impact assessment tool for First Nations communities. Specifically it will explore elements of health that are not typically examined, such as: safe water, healthy food, and social, cultural, natural, and spiritual connection with the land. The group aims to lend its collective expertise to the development of a more holistic, culturally relevant and collaboratively developed health impact assessment tool,. The team is submitting a planning grant application to CIHR for October 15th, 2012.

Knowledge Leader Team: Brenda Apetagon, Diana Campbell, Scott Venners, Osnat Wine, Shawna Babcock, Paivi Aberneth

5. Urban Scrawl

This multi-city project will support child and youth leadership in environmental health by engaging an amplifying the voices of young people in Canada through advocacy, accessible communication and fluidity. In collaboration with youth co-facilitator in each of Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver, the team will initiate a conversation about community and environmental health and encourage children to doodle their depiction of nature and a healthy environment onto postcards, which will then be disseminated to a wider audience of the general public and policy-makers. The goal is to make interconnections between communities and determine what aspects of a healthy community are important to youth.

Knowledge Leader Team: Soni Damohapstra, Jillian Ramsay, Jess Leppik, Steve Barnes, Kate Butler, Becs Hoskins