Building a stronger future for Canadian children and youth through social innovation

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

David J. Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University

On February 24, 2014 ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) and Senator Kelvin Ogilvie co-hosted an event demonstrating the impact of social sciences and humanities research on the lives of Canadian children and youth. We were pleased to be joined by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada at this event.

In his opening remarks to this event Senator Ogilvie commented, “A new language of innovation is emerging, that of social innovation…Research is certainly an important input into social innovation but research alone isn't enough.”  The most successful products, the most effective policies, and the most beneficial community services are developed when researchers, community partners, policymakers and businesses work together to address challenges and find solutions.

“That is knowledge mobilization, making research useful to society. Knowledge mobilization seeks to support collaborations between researchers and those organizations able to turn research into action and thus maximize the economic and social impacts of research. Knowledge mobilization helps to enable social innovation,” said Senator Ogilvie.

Seven projects that have demonstrated a positive impact on the lives of children and youth were profiled at the event.  These seven projects featured partnerships between post-secondary institutions and municipal, provincial and federal agencies, from the Nunatsiavut Government (and we were joined by that Government’s president, Sarah Leo), RCMP, school boards, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Cross, Scouts Canada, Parachute Canada, a library and a public health agency.

There are three elements that combine to make effective knowledge mobilization: 1) the right research; 2) the right researcher (and students); and, 3) the right partners. These seven projects were nominated by their institutions and selected by RIR because they fit these criteria.

In the words of Susan Clime, Director of Training for Big Brothers Big Sisters (partner with Deb Pepler from York University and PREVNet NCE, on the Healthy Relationships Training Module project), “It was wonderful to meet the Senators, MPs and Assistants – all of whom were so encouraging and supportive. It was helpful to hear what is important to each of them, as we all look to enhancing opportunities for children and youth and families in Canada”.

At the end of the day that was the goal of this event: to make connections between research, policy and practice.  For more information on those seven projects please click on the links below to see the poster and a ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary on one academic paper related to the project.

For a gallery of photos from the event please click here.

Trevor Bell, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador: Aullak, Sangilivallianginnatuk (Going Off, Growing Strong) “Going off” on the land helps Inuit youth improve mental health

Debra Pepler, York University: Giving adults the right training helps to prevent bullying

Barbara Morrongiello, University of Guelph: New training program results in better home supervision of 2-5 year old children

Donna Kotsopoulos, Wilfrid Laurier University: Improving math skills in pre-school aged children helps learning outcomes

Gira Bhatt, Kwantlen Polytechnic University: Protecting youth from violence and gang involvement is a collective effort

Nazeem Muhajarine, University of Saskatchewan: Smart neighbourhood design can enhance children’s physical activity

Bonnie Leadbeater, University of Victoria: Bullying prevention creates safer spaces for children and youth (presented by Tina Daniels from Carleton University)


The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Debra Pepler (Professor, York University), Danielle Quigley (Postdoctoral Fellow), Susan Climie (National Director of Training, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)


Wladyslaw Lizon (MP, Mississauga-East - Cooksville), The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Robert Haché (Vice-President Research and Innovation, York University), Ted Hsu (MP, Kingston and the Isands) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)