The Great Reconnect: Personal, Community and Societal Resilience in a Post-COVID-19 World

VanderPlaat, Madine | $24,990

Nova Scotia Saint Mary's University 2021 SSHRC

As the world has adapted to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, we have seen a growing need to reconnect with ourselves, our communities, and our physical and natural environments. The ripple effects of COVID‑19 have amplified the social and structural inequities facing families, that pre-existed the pandemic, resulting in a dramatic impact on wellbeing at a societal level. This impact is related to SSHRC’s Emerging A-Social Society future challenge area, and is seen in growing isolation, disconnect, challenging work conditions, income inequities, unemployment, together with increased loneliness, antisocial technology use, substance abuse, and mental health challenges amongst others. Collectively this past year has powerfully demonstrated what science has been saying for decades: community matters! People’s wellbeing is best supported via the relational and contextual resources embedded in their communities. Moreover, if we are to support continued wellbeing in the face of increased chronic challenges, resources embedded in localised contexts need to be bolstered by the larger political and economic societies in which they function. Resilience isn’t just about “the capacity to absorb shocks and still maintain function” — it is also about “the capacity for renewal, re-organization and development”[1].

The Great Reconnect*: Personal, Community and Societal Resilience in a Post-COVID-19 World, is a 3-day forum hosted by the Atlantic Summer Institute (ASI) together with Saint Mary’s University (SMU), and the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health (NCCDH), St Francis Xavier University. This annual knowledge mobilization and outreach event brings together experts in the field of psychosocial outcomes for children and youth, including practice, policy and research. The intent is to review our collective knowledge of supporting healthy child and youth life outcomes; identify gaps in our knowledge base; and, develop related policy, practice, and research foci. This year, the focus is on understanding community resilience as a core support for child and youth outcomes; and, how community resilience as a core support, can be better accounted for in practice, policy, and multiple levels of leadership.

SSHRC funding will provide important support to this virtual event. First it will enhance the participation of children and youth. Children’s input will be integrated via collaborating partners. The lived expertise of youth attending the event virtually will be centred via carefully facilitated activities. Second, it will support the development of related outputs beyond the event itself. Following the knowledge sharing forum, the knowledge transfer process will continue through various activities. A policy brief targeting community, provincial and federal leadership will be developed and shared at these levels. Dissemination videos, PDF tip-sheets and policy briefs for additional knowledge users will be created and shared through our network of partners, including ASI, the NCCDH, A Way Home Canada and the International Community Development and Resilience Consortium. Knowledge users such as Indigenous Services Canada, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada will also support the sharing of this information. Academic publications will bring together the knowledge collective present at the event. Finally, a research grant proposal will be developed tackling emerging policy, practice, and research questions highlighted via the forum. Collectively, these activities will contribute to our understanding of how we can better support positive child and youth outcomes through community resilience.

* Inspired by the documentary, The Great Disconnect[2]

With funding from the Government of Canada

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