Youth with Down syndrome and COVID 19: Fostering Inclusion, Communication and Engagement Through Creative & Visual Arts
This Partnership Engage Grant proposal desribes a collaboration, where academics and a non- profit organization will support individuals and families with Down syndrome and collectively heighten research opportunities and practice. Involving participation within a creative and visual arts modality, youth with Down syndrome (n=10) will explore and share individual experiences from participation in a social inclusion project during the COVID 19 lockdown period. The overall goal is an increased awareness and knowledge mobilization of expressive communication for individuals with Down syndrome. This project aims to change the way we think about communication and expression for individuals with Down syndrome (DS) from experiences during a pandemic. Using a Participant Action Research, this project will engage youth with DS and communicate to diverse audiences that using creative and visual arts for expression is a central aspect of overall communication. Very little research describes the needs of expressive communication for youth with DS. To address the gap, this project will welcome youth with Down syndrome as members of the research team, alongside team researchers and community stakeholders. Youth with DS will be involved in every stage of the research project and participate in team meetings and dissemination.
Aligning with the objectives of the Engage Grant, this project will provide short term and timely support to the Cape Breton Down Syndrome Society (CBDSS), which will inform decision making through a supportive inclusive community. Acquiring this data, which will inform decisions on future program planning and communication workshops for the CBDSS can improve the quality of community engagement for youth with Down Syndrome. Through this partnership with Cape Breton University, several objectives from the Insight program will be explored. These include the support for new approaches to research on complex and important topics, providing high quality and unique experiences, fund research expertise that relates to societal changes for individuals with Down syndrome and mobilize research knowledge within academic and non-academic audiences, with potential to lead intellectual impacts for individuals with Down syndrome. This project proposal also distinguishes the objectives of the Connections program by building and enhancing non-academic networks to ensure improved communication programming & accessibility for all members of the Cape Breton Down syndrome society, supports the building of reciprocal relationships among researchers in social sciences and education. This team will include Cape Breton University researchers, a PhD Student from Mc Gill University, (2) Bachelor of Education Research Assistants and a non -profit community partnership organization in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Lastly, this project will facilitate a multi directional flow of social sciences knowledge among researchers through both Cape Breton University and McGill University campuses as well as those local communities.
Recognizing the many benefits of creative arts, this project seeks to enhance social inclusion opportunities, enhance communication skills, and provide a creative opportunity of expression for individuals with Down syndrome to share their individual experiences during the COVID 19 lockdown. Participation within the creative arts sector seeks to build additional options of communication for youth other than traditional verbal communication, while promoting community social inclusion practices for individuals with diverse learning needs.