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.