Announcing the Winners of our 2019 KT Innovation Incubator Competition

We are pleased to announce the two winning teams of our 2019 CHILD-BRIGHT KT Innovation Incubator competition: the Making Sense of Connectedness team and the Ready 2 Work team. Read more about both teams below.

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The Making Sense of Connectedness project is led by Natalie Miyake (Autism Advocate/Parent, West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped), Dr. Melissa Park (Principal Investigator, Participatory Research / School of Physical & Occupational Therapy at McGill University), Caitlin Bard (Autism Advocate/Student), Lyne Charlebois (Executive Director of West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped), Anabel Sinn (Principal Designer, Connected Narratives) and Casey Vormer (Autism Advocate/Artist, Project Coordinator).  

Meet the team here:

Natalie Miyake

Natalie Miyake

Dr. Melissa Park

Dr. Melissa Park

Caitlin Bard

Caitlin Bard

Anabel Sinn

Anabel Sinn

Casey Vormer

Casey Vormer

 

What is Making Sense of Connectedness?

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The Making Sense of Connectedness team will use the KT Innovation Incubator grant to give neurodiverse children and youth, as well as their families, the opportunity to build an online hub of sensory environments in Montreal to engage the public about the impact of these sensory spaces on the learning, health, and well-being of neurodiverse children and their families.

More specifically, the team will:

  • Place children/youth on the autism spectrum and their families at the centre of the project to co-create initiatives that will change everyday sensory spaces based on their experiential knowledge

  • Collaborate with children/youth on the spectrum to represent messages and important themes, which will be accessed on the online platform

  • Use ethnographic methods (e.g., photographs, mini-films, stories, fieldnotes of participant observations) to document the process of engaging the public, co-designing and evaluating initiatives.

This is an innovative project that aims to modify sensory environments in health care and commercial settings and that will be co-led by people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and family members of children/youth with brain-based developmental disabilities. They will document the process through ethnographic methods to better record their different approaches at engaging the public in collaboratively creating and implementing child and youth-led initiatives to help create these neurodiverse-friendly environments.

“Our work as part of the Making Sense of Connectedness project will transform the ways in which we respond to and collaboratively take action led by the experiential knowledge of neurodiverse children and youth. Our project is about potentiality and we are thrilled that CHILD-BRIGHT both understands and stands behind the potentiality of citizen engagement.”
— Melissa Park, Principal Investigator

This team’s partnership was established in April 2015 when Dr. Melissa Park and Natalie Miyake (Former Board Member of West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped) met with families with children diagnosed with autism. The participatory research project at the time provided children and their families an opportunity to take photos and videos of places where they experienced social inclusion/exclusion, with particular emphasis on sensory supports and barriers in those spaces. The team has since grown to include more autism advocates and artists to support the infrastructure for photographs, mini-films and stories of neurodiverse children and youth. 

The grant was funded by a McGill Social Sciences & Humanities Development Grant 2014  Making sense of social inclusion: An exploratory photo-ethnographic and participatory study of the experiences of children with autism and their families in the community.  Our aim was to understand the sensory experiences of children diagnosed with autism and their families in public spaces; and how they make sense of, and develop strategies to promote, experiences of social-spatial inclusion.

The grant was funded by a McGill Social Sciences & Humanities Development Grant 2014 Making sense of social inclusion: An exploratory photo-ethnographic and participatory study of the experiences of children with autism and their families in the community. Our aim was to understand the sensory experiences of children diagnosed with autism and their families in public spaces; and how they make sense of, and develop strategies to promote, experiences of social-spatial inclusion.

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The Ready 2 Work project is led by Dr. Priscilla Burnham Riosa (Principal Investigator, Department of Applied Disability Studies at Brock University), Lisa Whittingham (PhD Student), Courtney Bishop (PhD Student), Nickolas Kenyeres (Technology Specialist), Dr. Briano De Rezze (Collaborator, School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University), Dr. Wendy Roberts (Collaborator, Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders) and Neil Walker (York ASD Partnership Project Liaison/Coordinator).   

Meet the team here:

 
Dr. Priscilla Burnham Riosa

Dr. Priscilla Burnham Riosa

Lisa Whittingham

Lisa Whittingham

Courtney Bishop

Courtney Bishop

Nickolas Kenyeres

Nickolas Kenyeres

 
 
Dr. Briano De Rezze

Dr. Briano De Rezze

Dr. Wendy Roberts

Dr. Wendy Roberts

Neil Walker

Neil Walker

 

What is Ready 2 Work?

The Ready 2 Work team will use the KT Innovation Incubator grant to develop and pilot an online vocational/employment readiness platform alongside self-advocates with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their families, and professionals who operate vocational programs for people with ASD.

More specifically, the team will:

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  • Conduct focus groups with key stakeholders (people with ASD, their families, and program leaders from relevant vocational/employment organizations) about the needs of job seekers with ASD

  • Develop and test the online platform with ongoing feedback from key stakeholders to ensure that the hub stays relevant for end users

  • Pilot the finalized platform with end users both involved and not involved in the previous project phases to evaluate the overall experience and perceived utility of the tool.

The project is motivated by both the importance of vocational and employment success among people with ASD and by the shortage of existing tools that currently support people with ASD to market their skills to potential employers. This ‘gateway to employment’ platform will provide tools to individualize employment readiness that can lead to concrete deliverables (e.g., customized resume, mentor connection) that would be helpful in beginning or continuing their vocational/employment search.   

“This end user-developed online portal may have far-reaching implications for helping people with ASD become better equipped to enter the workforce. Meaningful employment not only benefits end users but may have positive societal benefits to the broader community.”
— Ready 2 Work Team

The CHILD-BRIGHT KT team, including the members of the KT Advisory Committee, will also conduct a case study about innovation in knowledge translation and propose an appropriate evaluation framework for the Making Sense of Connectedness and Ready 2 Work teams.

Congratulations to both winning teams for these highly innovative projects!

We would also like to thank all the applicants of our second CHILD-BRIGHT KT Innovation Incubator grant competition as well as our review panel, which was composed of parents, researchers, clinicians, educators, trainees, and youth with expertise in KT research, childhood disability research, occupational therapy, mental health services, communications, and advocacy.