Dalhousie’s internationally recognized research has real-world impact in a host of areas, including the physical, mental and emotional health of children. It’s important work.
Eating & moving
Recently, Dr. Sara Kirk’s work explored how families prioritize recreational sports and other scheduled physical activities over healthy eating. “Healthy behaviour is actually abnormal in our culture,” says Sara Kirk. The Canada Research Chair and professor at the School of Health and Human Performance notes how our modern society has undermined health behaviours, leading to increasing rates of chronic disease in adults and children. With cities designed for cars and energy-dense processed food easily available, healthy, active living is challenging for many of us. Dr. Kirk’s research is focused on finding ways to create healthier communities.
Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry operates free pediatric dental clinics to improve low-income children’s access to oral care in Dartmouth and North Preston. Clinics are staffed with a pediatric dentist and dentistry and dental hygiene students. “The clinics are one of the main places dentistry students will get experience in pedadontics while they are in dental school, so they gain valuable experience.” says Janice Ruppert, a dental assistant who manages one of the clinics.
Aboriginal children experience high rates of pain-related conditions, but appear least likely to be treated for them. Developing culturally-safe strategies to diagnose and treat pain is at the heart of the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt & Healing Initiative (ACHH). Recently the ACHH initiative was invited to lead the Aboriginal stream of a $12.5 million CIHR SPOR grant to research chronic pain.
Recently named Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience, Michael Ungar continues to develop international projects to investigate child and youth resilience through his Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie. Dr. Ungar says the centre positions Dal as a world leader in understanding how young people develop resilience. Among other projects, the centre is planning a conference in South Africa in 2017 and conducting ongoing work in countering violent extremism by understanding how communities remain resilient despite marginalization. “We are excited that so many service providers and government agencies are seeing our work as relevant to both practice and policy,” he says.
Dr. Stan Kutcher, professor in the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine, is also the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health at the IWK Health Centre. Dr. Kutcher has developed a mental health resource to help students make the transition from high school to post-secondary education. Available in a book or free iPhone app, Transitions provides information on everything from study strategies, to mental illness, addictions and suicide. A recent Dal-based study found that reading Transitions improved student knowledge about mental illness and decreased the stigma surrounding it. Transitions is the only evidence-based resource for mental health on Canadian university campuses. It’s been so successful, Dr. Kutcher is developing a version for grade 12 students.