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Ryerson researcher Dr. Jason Nolan is breaking down barriers for children with special needs. He has recently been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Stars in Global Health program through Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, to fund his pilot project entitled “Adaptive Design International.” His project focuses on the creation of customized adaptations for children with special needs.
Dr. Nolan is Assistant Professor at the School of Early Childhood Studies and Director of the Experiential Design and Gaming Environments (EDGE) Lab. The EDGE lab is home to the Adaptive Design Studio, where Dr. Nolan and his colleagues work directly with children with special needs to create custom adaptable designs, working towards a goal of improving their well-being. Dr. Nolan uses accessible materials such as cardboard to create objects such as rockers that encourage self-stimulatory behaviour in autistic children.
The first step of the project is to set up a teaching and learning collaboration with partners to co-develop a training program and establish an adaptive design lab in Bolivia. Then Dr. Nolan will develop an online knowledge mobilization network linked to these international community partners.
Grand Challenge Canada’s Stars in Global Health program supports scientific/technical, social, and business innovation. Successful projects seek to create affordable health solutions that can be assimilated into cultural practices worldwide, with the capacity to affect positive change in low-to-middle-income countries.
“This collaboration will build on our shared strengths to form a solid foundation from which to share our social innovation with our neighbours and all around the world,” says Dr. Nolan. The long term goal of the project is to scale-up through additional industry and public partnerships, eventually becoming a template used in emerging communities worldwide.
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Rubina, an ECS graduate student and past EDGE Lab RA is featured on the FCS web site as a social change leader.
The Canada Foundation for Innovation / Fondation canadienne pour l’innovation published this video about some of the projects going on in the lab last winter.
Jason Nolan, director of Ryerson University’s EDGE Lab in Toronto, designs and builds objects out of cardboard that allow kids with special needs to play freely and independently. Nolan showcased his work as CFI’s guest at the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s “Cool Science Saturday” event in Ottawa on February 15.
Photos courtesy of Jason Nolan and The Adaptive Design Association of New York
For more on this story, visit our blog:
Lab researchers Jason Nolan and Donna Koller are members of IMPAKT, and wish to invite members of the Ryerson community to this important talk: Bullying Prevention for Children with Differences and Disabilities by Dr. Debra Pepler
December 9, 2013, 3:30 – 5:00pm Main Auditorium – Hollywood Theatre 1rst Floor Black Wing, Room 1249 The Hospital for Sick Children
Topic: Children with differences and disabilities are bullied at a higher rate than their typically developing peers. Natural processes within children’s groups move these children to the margins, where they are at increased risk for victimization. Children with differences and disabilities want and need healthy peer relationships as much as any other child. The healthy development of all children depends on healthy relationships. It is our role as adults involved in the lives of children to redirect natural peer processes to ensure that children with differences and disabilities are fully included in positive peer relationships. We will explore critical strategies for promoting healthy relationships and healthy development for children and youth including: adults’ self awareness, building rapport with children and youth, scaffolding or coaching, social architecture, and systems change.
Dr. Debra Pepler is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and a Senior Adjunct Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children. Her research focuses on aggression and victimization among children and adolescents, as well as children in families at risk. Together with Dr. Wendy Craig, Dr. Pepler leads a federally funded national network, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), that is Canada’s Authority on Research and Resources for Bullying Prevention and a National Centre of Excellence Knowledge Mobilization Network. PREVNet’s mission is to promote safe and healthy relationships and prevent bullying for children and youth.
More info at: IMPAKT Talk -DebraPeplerDec9-2013
Rubina Quadri is helping children learn the art of communication. The Early Childhood Studies (ECS) ’12 graduate received a $27,000 Ryerson Social Enterprise Fellowship Federal Development Grant to develop a prototype of Talking Buttons, a reprogrammable touchpad to help autistic children communicate. Like fellow ECS graduate Sherene Ng, Quadri’s internship and work as a lab technician and research assistant in the EDGE Lab got her acquainted with adaptive design. Quadri started to learn about Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices and how to enhance its capabilities. AAC are communication methods to help support or replace speech and writing for those with impairments. Read more at: “Talking Buttons helps kids vocalize needs”
Sherene Ng, visiting scientist in the EDGE Lab, was featured this week at the event celebrating the Ashoka Changemaker U (Ashoka Canada) designation for Ryerson, “Ryerson’s record of innovation and social entrepreneurship”.
Ryerson has earned the prestigious Ashoka Changemaker U designation, joining just 23 other universities around the world to hold the title including Duke University, Brown University, Boston College and Cornell University. The designation recognizes Ryerson’s record of innovation and social entrepreneurship. Celebrating the announcement this week at Ryerson are, from left, Wendy Cukier, vice-president, research and innovation, Vicki Saunders, advisor to the VPRI, student entrepreneurs Shane Feldman, Che Kothari and Sherene Ng, and Sheldon Levy, president. Photo credit: Clifton Li.
Congratulations to Dr. Yukari Seko (and her son the honorary Dr. Asahi) on her graduation from the Communications and Culture program. Dr. Seko worked in the lab as lead graduate student on the “Voices of Digital Natives” research project.
The EDGE Lab welcomes our new undergraduate research assistant Lyubka Totina. Lyubka is a 3rd year student in Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management – Business Technology Management and will be working under the direction of Sherene Ng and Rubina Quadri on the Wearable Shoe Sensor commercialization project. Funding for the assistantship comes thanks to the Ryerson Summer Research Opportunities Program, and the Wearable Shoe Sensor project is funded by a grant from FedDev Ontario.