Supporting newcomer children’s wellbeing through creativity and play
Presenters: Vanessa Currie, Executive Director of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development, Dr. Kathleen Manion, Associate Professor at Royal Roads University, and Laura Wright, Professional Practitioner and Research Consultant
Date: May 28th, 2019
Recent increases in the number of people forced to migrate have disproportionately impacted children. In Canada, newcomer children face multiple systemic barriers to accessing both formal and informal psychosocial services, which impact their mental health. There is a surprising dearth of literature on the comparative impact on children’s mental health as a result of forced migration, but it is evident that while children are on the move and once they arrive they need additional support to integrate, feel welcomed and settled in a way that promotes their dignity, belonging and wellbeing.
This webinar draws on the experience of researchers from the International Institute for Child Rights and Development and Royal Roads University in engaging young people in creative and play-based activities in non-formal education settings that support their mental health and wellbeing. The presentation shares learning from two participatory action research projects. The first, the Syrian Canadian Sports Players in Nova Scotia with St. Francis Xavier University, explores the relationship between sports and recreation and belonging. The second, YouCreate with Terre des hommes, explores an arts-based participatory engagement project that empowers young refugees and migrants in Iraq and Egypt to understand their own sense of wellbeing and identify solutions to the challenges they face.
Vanessa, Laura and Kathleen discuss strategies from research and practice to better understand and improve the paths to support children’s wellbeing, when children are forced from their homes. They highlight how these processes that have been used in non-formal education settings can be adapted and modified for the formal education setting.
Vanessa Currie, MA, is the Executive Director of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development. She has twenty years experience in children’s protection and participation, using holistic child-centred approaches to reimagine community development. Her work focuses on engaging young people, their families and communities in participatory action research and monitoring and evaluation processes that draw community wisdom forward in partnership with governments, NGOs and civil society. Vanessa uses arts-based strategies to promote wellbeing that draw from the natural environment and children’s individual spirituality. Working in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America as well as with Indigenous communities in Canada, Vanessa leads the development of innovative culturally appropriate and child and family centered systems. Community-based child protection mechanisms that reinforce communities’ capacity to support young people are an area of special interest.
Dr. Kathleen Manion, MA, LLM, PhD, associate professor, is the Program Head for the BA in Justice Studies at Royal Roads University. Focused on social justice, international humanitarian issues, interdisciplinary perspectives, collaborative processes and applied research, she melds her scholar-practitioner experience into a variety of teaching, research and community development projects drawing on child rights, international social work, child protection and wellbeing, right to housing, environmental protection, tackling family violence, supporting child refugees, and youth justice. She has lived and worked on six continents and holds a PhD in Sociology, an LLM in International Human Rights Law and a MA in International Social Work.
Laura Wright, MA, MEd, is a professional practitioner and research consultant with experience in children’s rights, children’s meaningful participation, child protection, play, and psychosocial wellbeing in diverse development and humanitarian contexts. She is a member of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD) Leadership team, an associate for organizations such as the ResiliencebyDesign Research Lab, and a Supervisor and Sessional Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and Simon Fraser University. Laura is a PhD Researcher at the University of Edinburgh, and holds a Masters of Education, University of Toronto and Masters of Arts, Royal Roads University. Her work with children, youth, and adults has spanned Africa (East and West), Middle East, Asia, North America, and Europe. Laura is active on Canadian and international boards (e.g. Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child), networks, and research teams (e.g. International and Canadian Child Rights Research Partnership) to support collaboration and transformation across sectors and disciplines.
Dr. Kathleen Manion