Professors consider long-term health impact of wildfires

Wildfire in the forest

Emilie Roudier and Olivier Birot, professors with York University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science in the Faculty of Health, have published research calling for a rethinking of the potential long-term health risks of wildfires.

The paper, titled “Wildland fire, air pollution and cardiovascular health: is it time to focus on the microvasculature as a risk assessment tool?,” considers how our current understanding of potential long-term health risks from particulate matter (PM) exposure is limited and mostly ignores the microvascular system, a network of tiny arterioles and capillaries that may be just as important as the heart, lungs and arteries when it comes to understanding the health dangers of PM resulting from forest fires.

“While it’s understandable that initial attention focuses on the immediate impacts of losses and casualties after a wildfire, we know that there are also longer-term impacts from exposure to particulate matter pollution,” says Roudier, who is leading the research project, which involved spending a portion of the summer on the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, where summer wildfires are common. There, a partnership was created with the CNRS Wildland Forest Unit at the University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli (UCPP) and the Corsican fire authorities to further research efforts.

“Firefighters think about lung cancer, because they breathe the smoke, but because the fires are getting higher in temperature, the particulate matter is getting really small, so small that some can reach the bloodstream,” continues Roudier. “The PM are then in the cardiovascular system and travelling through our blood vessels. We are questioning whether we are using the right measurements to assess the risk posed to firefighters and the affected population. Having better tools, or additional tools, could hopefully lead to better solutions to mitigate risks.”

The paper notes that in North America, the length of the wildfire season has increased by nearly a fifth in the past 35 years, making the need to answer these questions more pressing. Population growth and development has increased human exposure to wildfire areas, growing the likelihood of both accidental ignition and fire-suppression policies that can lead to an accumulation of biomass fuels. While there is a clear link in the literature between PM pollution and cardiovascular disease, linking this to wildfires has been harder to show, given the complexities of studying this on a population level.

Birot, an associate professor who worked as a volunteer firefighter for seven years during his undergraduate and postgraduate studies, teaches a course at York that looks at extreme environments and their effects on health, including PM exposure and exercise.

“This microcirculation is not only important for delivering oxygen and nutrients to our tissues – it is also key for communication exchanges between organs, for example, between the working muscle and the brain. And it is also this microcirculation that’s key to dissipate excess body heat, moving heat from the core of the body to the peripheral skin. So think about wildland firefighters who are engaging in long periods of intense physical activity in a context where they’re going to produce heat because of their activity, and they are doing that in an environment that is polluted and extremely hot. So you’re combining a lot of stressors,” he says.

The two researchers have obtained samples of PM from wildland fires in Corsica and have started to analyze them back in their lab at York to test their effect on human endothelial cells, which line the inner layer of blood vessels. They are looking for epigenetic biomarkers that could act as early warning systems for those who might be more vulnerable.

A delegation from the UCPP will be coming to York in October, and Roudier and Birot will head back to Corsica in December to do more field work – collecting new PM samples from controlled biomass burning – and to expand their collaboration with Corsican fire authorities.

Watch a video of Roudier and Birot explaining their research:

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

Osgoode student earns scholarship for disability advocacy

Equity, diversity, inclusion

Third-year Osgoode Hall Law School student Angela Dittrich was awarded a Legal Leaders for Diversity Trust Fund Scholarship in recognition of both her academic excellence and her work to improve accessibility to legal education. The fund, created through donations from general counsel and law firm managing partners across Canada, was established in 2015 to promote equal access and diversity in law schools.

As an advocate for people with disabilities, Dittrich has always understood that there is strength in numbers. That’s why she is actively campaigning to create the first national organization representing law students with disabilities. Her brainchild, the Canadian Coalition for Law Students with Disabilities, has so far brought together students from all 23 law schools across Canada.

Angela Dittrich
Angela Dittrich

“My disability advocacy work has been the most challenging and fulfilling work I have done during my law school career,” she said. “While some progress has been made, there is still a long way to go to tackle the many challenges and inequities that disabled law students and lawyers continue to face across the country.”

Dittrich, a native of Hamilton, Ont., and an active leader with the Disability Collective of Osgoode (DisCO), has been diagnosed as neurodivergent and has had a variety of neurological, chronic pain, cardiac and connective tissue disorders since early childhood.

Being a law student ith disabilities poses numerous challenges and barriers, she said. But the most frustrating challenge, she noted, is that many of these barriers could easily be eliminated through the development of equitable policies, more thoughtful planning approaches and a system that prioritizes the creation of a more diverse, inclusive profession.

It was in her role as DisCO’s outreach co-ordinator last year that Dittrich said she saw the need for a national organization to advocate for law students with disabilities. The idea took shape during discussions with disability advocates from local law schools about advocacy strategies for COVID-19-related accommodations.

“I realized that our advocacy efforts would be amplified if we were working collectively, and began to build this network alongside other disability advocates at Canadian law schools,” she said. “The coalition is still in its early stages of formation, and I hope for it to be fully established within the Fall 2023 term.”

This year, her third year in the combined Juris Doctor/Master in Environmental Studies program, Dittrich will serve as co-president of DisCO. She said she plans to build on the organization’s work in creating an important sense of community and engaging with the law school’s administration to implement key equitable policy measures.

Faculty of Health researchers investigate road safety, health equity

boy rides a bike in a heavy rainstorm

A paper written by Emily McCullogh, a postdoctoral visitor in the Faculty of Health, and colleagues from a pan-Canadian research team examines the built environment and active transportation safety of children and youth (CHASE).

The study, “Road safety, health equity, and the build environment: perspectives of transport and injury prevention professionals in five Canadian municipalities,” was recently published in BMC Public Health Journal.

The team consists of researchers from Vancouver, Calgary, Peel Region, Toronto and Montréal, as well as principle investigator Alison Macpherson (York University), and York University alumna Sarah A. Richmond (Public Health Ontario), who were responsible for supervising the work on this paper.

The objective of the CHASE study was to enhance the understanding of barriers and facilitators to built environment change, specifically for vulnerable road users (VRUs) such as pedestrians, cyclists, children, older adults and people with disabilities. Researchers note that currently, the built environment is not designed to support the health and safety of all users, but instead is primarily designed to increase traffic flow and efficiency.

“This work has expanded my knowledge of how the built environment influences the health and wellness of people. Road users are not inherently vulnerable; rather, they are made vulnerable by the design of the built environment,” says McCullogh.

The built environment refers to the “human-made surroundings that provide the setting for all human activity, including those places where people live, work, learn, rest and play,” according to the Canadian Institute of Planners. The design of the built environment, say the researchers, influences people’s health by impacting decisions to take public transit and/or engage in active travel (e.g. walking, cycling, wheeling etc.).

Using qualitative data from professionals working in the fields of injury prevention and road safety, the paper offers insight into barriers and facilitators to equity-focused built environment changes. The team says it is a meaningful step towards removing barriers and ensuring that all community members are served and protected by the built environment as they travel to work or school, or for leisure.

“These findings make an important contribution to York’s commitment to the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as they highlight important challenges to making sustainable transportation safer for all,” says Macpherson.

“Drawing on the experiences of professionals working in, and across, these sectors shows how HE (health equity) concerns and BE (built environment) change are not contained within a single sector,” the study states. “Alternatively, efforts to improve BE conditions and the health and safety of road users exist across sectors, which bolsters the need for cross-sectoral collaboration and collective efforts to ensure that HE concerns are addressed on multiple fronts.”

McCullogh says given the urgent health concerns around road-related injury and death, people’s physical health and environmental sustainability, this work is timely. Further, McCullogh adds, a result of this research is that communities and local populations should be involved in built environment change planning and processes within their neighbourhoods.

“Through this work, we better understand what helps and hinders public health practitioners in their efforts toward safe active transport in their communities; specifically, public health highlighted the importance of supporting equitable community consultation in the BE change process,” says Richmond.

Researchers and policymakers aiming to enhance people’s health by making changes to the built environment and the design of cities can learn more about the learnings from McCullogh and her colleagues’ work, particularly with regards to changing the built environment to support vulnerable and equity-deserving road users.

Click here to access the full article.

Dahdaleh Institute summer interns to showcase global health research

Global health

The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR) invites York University community members to its fifth Summer Global Health Intern Symposium on Aug. 30.

DIGHR poster

Throughout the summer term, Dahdaleh global health interns have been undertaking exciting research projects that address critical global health challenges.

On Aug. 30, eight interns will reflect on their internship and deliver a short presentation about the experience, knowledge and skills they have gained, and will share progress on their research projects, including:

DIGHR research
Global health interns
  • experiential-based simulation learning;
  • effects of resource insecurity on health outcomes;
  • mental and emotional health and wellness;
  • post-pandemic public health reforms; and
  • impact of human behaviour on antimicrobial resistance.

To learn more about this event, or to register to attend, visit

Lunch will be provided. All are welcome to attend.

The Dahdaleh Institute is currently hiring the next cohort of global health interns for the upcoming Fall/Winter 2023-24 academic year. All interested applicants are encouraged to visit the DIGHR website to learn more.

York leads atmospheric scientists in analyzing city’s air pollution 

Panorama of Toronto skyline at sunset in Ontario, Canada

As Toronto gets hotter, muggier and wildfire smoke increasingly wafts through the atmosphere, researchers at York University are leading a team of atmospheric scientists in testing the city’s air pollution from their rooftop Air Quality Research Station for six weeks this summer. 

Cora Young
Cora Young

The research project, Toronto Halogens, Emissions, Contaminants and Inorganics eXperiment (THE CIX), with science lead Associate Professor Cora Young and logistics lead Assistant Professor Trevor VandenBoer, both of York University’s Faculty of Science, is designed to analyze areas of uncertainty in the air we breathe, to better understand what is contributing to the city’s air pollution.  

Preliminary results show the negative impacts on Toronto’s air quality caused by wildfire smoke. Although Toronto’s air pollution has generally been improving over the past few decades, smoke in the city is reversing these improvements. 

Assistant Professor Trevor VandenBoer
Trevor VandenBoer

One of the things the team hopes to understand is how a soupy mix of trace chemicals will sometimes combine to create little-understood, new and changing threats that can contribute to worse air quality, including emissions from products we use every day, such as paint and pesticides and even perfume, greenhouse gases, perfluorocarboxylic acids (known as “forever chemicals”) and particulate matter – tiny particles of smoke, dust, pollen, emissions and fumes. 

“There is still so much we don’t know about what’s impacting the air we breathe and, until we do, it’s difficult to effectively target contaminants that are affecting our air quality now and into the future,” says Young. 

“This project is important, as it allows us to take a robust look at all the pollutants circulating in the air. The Montreal Protocol was successful in helping to fix the ozone layer above us because we knew what to target, but ground-level ozone and other contaminants can still be an issue, particularly spiking on hot summer days, creating poor air quality, which can impact people’s health.”  

Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen dioxide mixes with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sunlight. Although emissions of VOCs from fossil fuels have been declining, consumer and industrial volatile chemical products are an increasing, but understudied, source of VOCs. 

THE CIX project is part of an international field campaign – Atmospheric Emissions and Reactions Observed from Megacities to Marine Areas (AEROMMA) – across North America, organized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with projects in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto. NOAA and NASA launched their massive air quality research summer campaign on Aug. 3, with scientists from NOAA, NASA and 21 universities from three countries. State-of-the-art instruments are being deployed in multiple, co-ordinated research campaigns this month, including at York University, to investigate how air pollution sources have shifted over recent decades.

At York University, researchers from York U, the University of Toronto, the University of York (U.K.), the University of British Columbia, and Environment and Climate Change Canada are already taking readings from a room packed with unique, sophisticated and highly sensitive equipment – some of which was shipped from the U.K. and B.C. – on the roof of the Petrie Science & Engineering Building on York’s Keele Campus. 

The goal of the campaign is to assess air quality across urban centres, to understand what is impacting air pollution and how it’s changing. THE CIX team hopes to better understand several areas that contribute to air pollution in the Greater Toronto Area. 

In addition to the rooftop measurements, the NASA DC-8 flying science laboratory will cruise over campus this month to take air quality readings from higher in the atmosphere to compare with the rooftop readings. 

Data collected by THE CIX will also be compared with key air pollution observations from the recently launched NASA TEMPO instrument, the first geostationary satellite dedicated to air quality over North America. 

Learn more at News @ York.

Professor makes drama studies experiential

actors rehearsing on theatre stage

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

Professor Deanne Williams has introduced experiential education to two summer Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies courses – AP/EN 2140 Drama and AP/EN 3535 Shakespeare – by enabling students to see productions of the plays they are reading and studying.

For her first time teaching these courses in the summer, Williams wanted to try something different. Theatre trips with students have always been an element of Williams’ full-year courses, but they were typically dependent on chance – only possible when productions in the Toronto area happened to mirror the plays she was teaching in her syllabus.

Deanne Williams
Deanne Williams

In the fall of 2021, Williams first approached Tina Choi, who was then the English Department Chair, with an idea for teaching her Shakespeare and drama courses in the summer. “I proposed to teach them as experiential courses where the syllabus would be determined by plays that we could actually go and see live during the summertime, making use of the Stratford Festival, the Dream in High Park, the Soulpepper Theatre and more,” Williams says.

She knew students having the chance to see the plays they read in class come to life on a stage could have a major impact on their learning. “There’s so much more ownership of the live theatre experience that the students have, which gives them an incredible sense of authority [over the material].”

With the approval of Choi, and having secured experiential education funding through York’s Academic Innovation Fund to support the cost of tickets and transportation, the courses moved forward earlier this summer. Since then, in both courses, students will typically spend two full three-hour classes devoted to reading plays like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Sizwe Banzi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, and they will then go on to see the stage production together.

“To enrich our in-class experience of studying the texts, where I am telling them a lot of things, we are also experiencing a live show together. Students will all have their own unique experience of that, which then they can bring back to the classroom for discussion,” Williams says. “We’ve had incredibly exciting and spirited discussions about the shows we’ve seen.”

Further accentuating the experiential element of the classes, Williams has arranged talkbacks with the actors and directors of the productions, allowing them to see how artists engage with and interpret the texts. For example, the Shakespeare class had the chance to interact with York Assistant Professor of acting and directing, Jamie Robinson, about directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the 40th anniversary of Dream in High Park.

The benefits of the experiences this summer have not just been academic. For many of the students, it’s provided them – post COVID-19 isolation – a means of connection through, for example, several bus trips to the Stratford Festival. “There’s a kind of summer camp aspect. They’re bringing snacks, they’re making wonderful friendships, and you can really feel that sense of community being created in the classroom,” Williams says. “After so many years of being online, and that kind of alienation, it’s wonderful to see the students really bonding.”

The summer’s experiences have also had an impact on Williams, notably how she approaches teaching drama studies. Typically, the plays she teaches have been taught in historical chronological order – i.e. starting with plays by the ancient Greeks and moving up to contemporary drama. But because the summer courses’ syllabi were determined by the productions that were available to see throughout the summer, and what students could logistically attend, Williams had to approach things in another way.

“Instead of teaching Shakespeare and drama in a linear way, with a commitment to history, it’s been very interesting to think about teaching the plays through themes and questions and shared connections,” she says. “It’s very different from any other teaching I’ve done, but it’s certainly my favourite teaching so far that I’ve ever done.”

It’s all led to Williams being committed to teach more Shakespeare and drama courses this way in the future, in good part because the experiential education approach – including its collective nature – channels something of the power of theatre overall. “Theatre, from its very origins, has a spiritual aspect to it. There’s something about that collectivity and community in the environment of the theatre that is very moving and transformative,” says Williams.

Osgoode professor’s book examines future of remote work

Black woman reading book

The Future of Remote Work, co-edited by Valerio De Stefano, an Osgoode Hall Law School professor and Canada Research Chair in Innovation, Law and Society, argues that companies forcing employees back to their offices to reinvigorate downtown economies are misguided. 

Valerio De Stefano
Valerio De Stefano

The book, published by the independent, Brussels-based European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), includes more than 20 contributors from a variety of disciplines, including lawyers, economists and sociologists. The book’s other co-editors are: Nicola Contouris, a labour law professor at University College London and director of research for the institute; ETUI senior researcher Agnieszka Piasna, a labour sociologist; and labour lawyer Silvia Rainone, also an ETUI researcher.

“Remote work is here to stay,” insists De Stefano, “because it is beneficial for both employees and companies.”  

According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of employed Canadians who work from home for all or part of their work week now stands at just over 25 per cent, down from a high of 40 per cent during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies, such as Royal Bank of Canada and Amazon Canada, have mandated their employees to return to the office for at least part of the week. But in a competitive job market, De Stefano believes that could backfire. Companies that want to retain talent will need to continue providing remote work options or risk losing their most talented people, he says.

But unlike the first panicked months of the pandemic, De Stefano thinks remote work going forward must differentiate itself from what he calls “lockdown work”: “If we want to reap the benefits of remote work, we have to get away from the constraints that we had under the pandemic and put more rigid boundaries between work and personal time.”

This, says De Stefano, will require giving employees more autonomy and creating a stronger spirit of trust between them and their employers.

In the early pandemic, he notes, remote work was sometimes accompanied by invasive surveillance software that often led to employee stress, anxiety and burnout. He believes this type of technology can actually reduce productivity, if workers end up wasting time trying to outsmart the system.

De Stefano says the rise of remote and hybrid work has brought distinct benefits, like helping companies trim their rental budgets, cutting the cost of commuting for workers and reducing the number of cars on the road. While the negative impact on downtown economies is real, he thinks it is imperative for cities to find creative solutions to their vacant office space dilemma.

“It would certainly be a loss to society if we decided to go back to a pre-pandemic scenario just because we don’t know what to do with our downtowns,” he says.

York students organize Ontario Exercise Physiology Conference


Students from both York University and Queen’s University, with faculty input, organized the annual Ontario Exercise Physiology (OEP) Conference, which will bring together over 180 trainees from Ontario and Quebec to share their passion and research in exercise physiology and related fields.

The core purpose of the OEP Conference, running July 25 to 27, is to help trainees develop their research aptitude, presentation skills, career development strategies and build a network through a program that gives them time to talk and have discussions about their work and common interests.

A fundamental characteristic of the conference is that it is student organized and oriented, intent on creating something that benefits their peers across the province. (Input from Associate Professor Christopher Perry from the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York and Christopher McGlory in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University was provided).

Instead of principal investigators, only undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral Fellows, present their research to their peers and to volunteer faculty in attendance. Trainees receive feedback on their theses to help develop their perspectives and stimulate new ideas. Feedback is provided during a standard question-and-answer period, but also through the structured program that brings students and faculty together through additional activities.

OEP student organizing committee

The conference also features two keynote faculty speakers to serve as an early career and established career mentor at the meeting. Rather than present their research, both mentors will share their path from undergraduate studies to their present-day roles as faculty, including their experience of journeying through uncertainties and identifying passions through each step of their process.

The CEO of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology will also provide an exciting presentation on careers that can be pursued with a kinesiology and health studies degree. This talk will emphasize the many ways that trainees can make an impact on improving the lives of people through exercise prescription and related professions. There will also be a mentor from industry to talk about the experience of transitioning from graduate school to a career outside of academia.

The event wasn’t just organized, in part, by York students, but the University helped sponsor the event, spanning all major tiers of the institution including the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, the Faculty of Health and the Office of the Vice-President, Research.

Further information about OEP can be found here.

York-led study considers society’s state of health

Healthy food

Led by York University Faculty of Health Associate Professor Jennifer Kuk, a new long-term study of population-level data shows that when it comes to health, not only could everyone make improvements, but the relationship between risk factors and mortality changes over time, sometimes in surprising ways.

“You can take this as a good news story or a bad news story, depending on how you want to look at these numbers,” says Kuk, who was lead author of the study published recently in the science journal PLOS One. “What we discovered is that the relationship with risk factors and mortality changes over time, which could be explained by factors such as evolution in treatments and changes in social stigma. Overall, most of us have something wrong with us, and we’re more likely to have a lifestyle health-risk factor now than in the 1980s and that’s actually associated with even greater mortality risk now than before.”

Jennifer Kuk
Jennifer Kuk

The research took United States survey data from 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2014, and looked at the five-year mortality odds for people 20 years or older. The research team looked at 19 different risk factors and then adjusted the data for age, sex, obesity category and ethnicity. What they found overall was that less than three per cent of people had none of the risk factors. While previous research has documented the risk factors very well, Kuk says what was less understood was the relationship between various risks and the likelihood for mortality over time. Kuk and the research team found that the relationship could sometimes be paradoxical.

For example, says Kuk, rates of smoking, long linked to conditions that can lead to death such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, have overall decreased thanks to strong public health campaigns. However, the overall risk of being a smoker increased over time, which Kuk says could perhaps be explained by increased stigma as the addiction became less common and awareness of risks grew, which may also be reflected in research funding.

“If you look at cancer research, there’s a lot of funding overall. But specifically lung cancer seems to be associated with moral fault and, as a consequence, receives lower funding,” says Kuk. “When you look at the mortality risk associated with having lung cancer relative to all the other common cancers, it’s extremely high. So I think that this lack of push is detrimental.”

Kuk’s main area of research is obesity, and here she found that while its prevalence has gone up, the risks have gone down.

“Even though there’s more and more people with obesity, it’s actually not resulting in more deaths over time. And so I think that that’s another clear thing we need to recognize, that we’re very good at treating the outcomes associated with obesity. And regardless of what our body weight is, most of us have something that we can probably work on.”

Some of the other health trends that Kuk found in the data include:

  • diabetes and hypertension rates have gone up over time, but risks have gone down;
  • more people aren’t exercising, and this is now related to worse outcomes than it once was;
  • being on mental health medications was not a significant risk factor in the 1980s, but in the later dataset was associated with increased mortality; and
  • not finishing high school is now associated with health risks, but was not in the 1980s.

While Kuk says the research points to nearly all of us having room for improvement when it comes to various factors like diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol and drug intake, she also says that there are factors that are out of many people’s individual control.

“When we look at things like food insecurity, low education – as a society, we’re making it so that health might not be an easy choice for a lot of people. We need to be sensitive to that when we take a look at these risk factors.”

Watch a video of Kuk explain the research.

See more ways York University is making headlines at News @ York.

Co-operators awards $300,000 grant for youth mental health research at York

Hugging friends

A $300,000 gift from Co-operators will establish an innovative research fund to enhance resilience and combat mental health struggles among youth in Canada through initiatives at York University.

The new Co-operators’ Accelerator Fund for Youth Mental Health Research is dedicated to decreasing the prevalence and severity of mental health struggles and bolstering the resilience of underserved youth in Canada.

Specifically, the Accelerator Fund aims to support practical and impactful mental health research focused on young people aged 18 to 25 years old. Priority is given to those projects that are already underway or have the potential for short-term implementation, have evidence-based frameworks and have the potential for scalability and tangible community impact.

Recognizing that young adults face disproportionate mental health challenges during the transition between adolescence and adulthood, Co-operators has chosen to focus the efforts of their social wellness pillar exclusively on improving mental health for young people at this critical junction in their lives.

“We believe that equipping youth with the mental health tools they need to thrive is an essential part of setting them up for success long-term,” says Jessica Fisher, senior partnerships and social impact advisor at Co-operators. “The work being done at York University’s LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research aligns well with the impact we’re hoping to have on young adults across the country.”

Adds Fisher, “Co-operators is particularly excited about funding opportunities that are community-led and have the potential for broader influence.”

The Accelerator Fund’s first project is set to make strides on both fronts.

Led by Dr. Jennifer Connolly, professor and Chair of the Psychology program at York, and Dr. Jennine Rawana, associate professor of psychology and head of Calumet College, the grant’s inaugural initiative will scale up the community-based Milestones Program for youth transitioning from Child Protective Services to independent living. This project, created by foster parents at Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions (SMFC), an integrated child and family services agency, aims to provide the necessary supports youth need for a successful transition into adulthood.

Youth who are involved with child protective services or living in out-of-home care face significant challenges to their mental health and well-being due to insufficient support during this critical time of change. Despite current Ministry directions to better assist them during this critical life stage, there are few evidence-based programs available to meet their unique needs.

With support from the Co-operators Accelerator Grant, Connolly and Rawana aim to develop a modified Milestones Program to better support youth, and deliver helpful online resources, publications and presentations to the Ministry and Child Protective Services, as well as for parents and workers who are supporting youth through their transitions.

“Co-operators is excited about the potential scalability of this work,” says Fisher. “The project has tremendous potential to positively impact at-risk youth.”

As an expendable grant, the Co-operators’ Accelerator Fund will support innovative and forward-thinking research initiatives at the LaMarsh Centre for the next three years. Grant recipients are selected by an independent selection committee based on the successful submission of a competitive application.

“The Co-operators Accelerator Fund will undoubtedly have deep and long-lasting effects on the lives of Canadian youth,” says Faculty of Health Dean David Peters. “This support is a testament to Co-operators’ commitment to being a catalyst for sustainable and resilient communities and their dedication to fuelling a brighter future for young people from across the country.”