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New Centre for Child Well-Being launches April 3

The new Centre for Child Well-Being, which will be coordinated by the Faculty of Health and Community Studies, will mean improved learning opportunities, more experienced faculty and most importantly, a positive influence on children.

The new Centre, which celebrates its launch April 3, has three main goals: to mentor faculty in research, increase undergraduate engagement in meaningful research opportunities, and to liaise with the community on applied research questions.

Ultimately though, those three goals boil down to one purpose — making a difference.

“Our work will support the community with work they need to do, and hopefully that will cycle back to enhance our curriculum and better prepare our students,” says Dawne Clark, Centre Coordinator. “It also allows us to reach out to faculty outside of Health and Community Studies who may be interested in doing this work.”

Students in the Faculty of Health and Community Studies have been working on eight community-based research projects under the auspices of the Centre for Child Well-Being this semester, including one on children’s physical activity and another related to environmental health. “This means we can now start to formalize a lot of the work we are currently doing,”
The Centre for Child Well-Being will be a benefit to faculty, students and children.
The Centre for Child Well-Being will be a benefit to faculty, students and children alike.
An example of that work is the research currently being developed by second year Early Learning and Child Care students from the Bachelor of Nursing program. They are implementing a survey to poll child care centre caregivers on environmental health issues, including use of toxic cleaning chemicals and ventilation.

Clark says the students’ involvement in these community projects has given both the faculty and Mount Royal a tremendous boost in recognition. “We are addressing some immediate questions for the community.”

Most of the Centre’s projects have originated from faculty involvement in the community. “The circle of learning is really important,” Clark says. “The centre is showing students how they can become involved in community-based research, which will provide them with stronger skills when they graduate.”

Some 25 faculty members have expressed interest in joining the Centre. “We’re making an effort to be as interdisciplinary as possible,” Clark says. “We want to mentor faculty who may not have a strong research background.”

Another of the Centre’s projects, headed by Mount Royal’s Integrative Health Institute, involved surveying caregivers in Calgary child care centres on activity levels of preschool children. “The feedback from the centres has been quite marvellous, from involvement in piloting and receiving tool kits to participating in this form of professional development,” Clark says.

The survey found that, on average, children are getting less than 30 minutes per day of physical activity.

Based on survey results, some 120 Mount Royal students involved in the project have come up with checklists and a tool kit, and have so far conducted 12 workshops to help child care centres improve their services. Another 50 care centres have already requested the workshop. The Centre has received $70,000 in grants for this project from internal funds, local agencies, the Health Quality Council of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes and Canadian Sport for Life.

Members of the Centre’s advisory committees include Alberta Health and Wellness, Calgary Health Region and Alberta Child and Family Services.

The launch takes place tomorrow afternoon, from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. during a free community seminar on campus featuring noted child and family development expert Dr. Kyle Pruett, of Yale University.

—Rhonda Greenaway