A team of KHS undergraduate students served as researchers in the KHS Communities in Motion Project. They researched the community-based research projects that are profiled in the Showcase videos, they built the KHS Communities in Motion database and they developed their own digital stories. The following comments on their reflections on their involvement with the KHS Communities in Motion project.
What have you learned about community-based research in the School? What does community-based research mean to you?
"This type of research is more inclusive of what communities need or are interested in, and I think it helps bridge the gap between academic work and the practical relevance to the communities in which we are a part of and work in." (Nader)
“When reflecting on the significance of this project on a personal level, I able confidently able to state that it helped me get more involved in campus. It was an honour working with my peers and professors, including Dr. Safai and Dr. Gunter, and in integrating York students with their community-based research projects – for example, Dr. Gunter’s work with Ophea around inclusive physical education for kids in schools. Moreover, this experience allowed me to be more familiar with different types of research being done on campus and the resources and online tools that are available here at York to help us gain more knowledge.” (Mahnaz)
“Having had no experience in the past with community based research, all aspects of it were new to me. I learned about its collaborative nature, where institutions work together with community organizations in efforts of promoting change in a specific community, as is the case with DSkate and Dr. Michael Riddell. I also learned about its emphasis on equity and the importance of spreading knowledge with regards to initiatives such as DSkate. Even though I am a student of health and kinesiology I still wasn’t aware of organizations such as DSkate until I started working on the project. As such, I was able to understand how meaningful and important community-based research is in not only helping communities, but also in bringing attention to these causes.” (Angelo)
“Before this opportunity, I did not know much about community-based research. During this project, I learned that community-based research is a type of research that allows the community members to take part in the study themselves, share their opinions and contribute expertise to the research which not only helps them to develop and grow through this experience but also hugely affects them in a positive and educational way. For example, in Dr. Hayhurst research, young girls were really enjoying their time, by taking pictures, creating posters and playing football as well as contributing to the research.” (Arvin)
“It means a lot to me, as I have volunteered for years now in community projects associated with York University and the Jane and Finch area.” (Dusan)
“Before participating in this project, I was unaware of the importance of community-based research. In my opinion, a “real” research was experiment-based and should only have been performed in the laboratory. As I went through this project, I realized how vital community-based research could be. In fact, in community-based research, the focus is on people, not merely producing knowledge. In my opinion, community-based research has more social interaction and therefore is more successful in making a positive impact on the society.” (Pegah)
Why is it important to know where sport and physical activity organizations are located in our communities? What did you learn from identifying/locating these groups?
“Through the process of building a database of the physical activity organizations that are located in my community, I have found numerous organizations that I could potentially get involved with. However, more substantial than this, I have discovered how diverse and inclusive the various physical activity organizations are, and how intently they wish to create an inclusive atmosphere that encourages community members to become physically active. This is not only wonderful insight, but also an empowering opportunity. Through the realization of the diversity of physical activity organizations, and the wide range of target populations, I have also had the opportunity to engage in critical thinking about what I want to do with my future as a health care professional and someone who is set to graduate from an undergraduate Kinesiology program.” (Shir)
“One of the biggest problems we deal with today is that people are not active enough; this is a widespread problem across all age groups. A way to solve this problem is to provide resources such as non-profit physical activity and sport organizations so people of all ages can have access to them. Determining the location and contact info of these groups helps out a lot by helping people make the extra push in participating in some of these groups. From building this database, I learned that, even in the most rural communities, there are still many sport organizations available to the community that are low cost or free for everyone.” (Kristofer)
"For someone who has worked in the TDSB and acted as the only student representative for my 260,000 peers on multiple committees, I cannot emphasize the importance of such an initiative. I have worked with some schools, like North Toronto etc, where sports and physical activities are given the newest equipment and professional training while other schools in the TDSB don't have enough money for much needed textbooks, let alone sports equipment. Knowing where these community organizations are located allow students in lower income areas to maintain a healthy lifestyle and access the basics that should be offered to all students regardless of SES." (Nader)
“I imagine there are many individuals, both adults and children alike, who would like to participate in physical activity but are simply unaware of the programs being offered or where the facilities are. In addition, many of these individuals might not have the means to participate. By researching physical activity organizations, and creating a database of them for public viewing, we can facilitate part of the process of becoming physically active for those who want to do so. Even for those individuals who don’t like the hassle of researching where they can engage in physical activity, the process is made simpler by providing this information. I see it as an important step in further promoting physical activity and healthy living in our communities. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how many different non-profit organizations there for physical activity. In addition to this, many of these organizations have programs to make it possible for almost anyone to participate, regardless of financial situation, disabilities, etc. It was nice to learn how so many people care enough about promoting physical activity and getting others involved to dedicate so much time and effort to these projects.” (Angelo)
“Before starting this project, I did not know that there are these many non-profit organizations in York Region. It was fascinating to see that there are many organizations that their objective is to promote exercise and healthy lifestyle without an intention to make profit out of it. Moreover, before this project, I thought that the only way to get more information about these non-profit organizations and services that are offered to citizens is through the official York Region website. But that was not the case during this research. Many organizations do exist in York Region but are not included in the website and have their own private website or for example only have a page on social media platforms (e.g. Facebook). So the best way to locate these groups and organizations is by using different search engines in the internet and not just rely on Google or York Region official website.” (Arvin)
“I learned that there are a lot of different organizations, especially for children, seniors, and minority groups in Toronto and the GTA.” (Dusan)
“Since I live in York Region (Richmond Hill), I think it was very important for me to be informed about the types of non-profit organizations near me. Now it is a privilege for me to share my knowledge about all these local organizations with my community members so that they are able to participate in without any cost. Spreading this information around my community would then help to create a better environment as it integrates all the members socially and increases their health. Moreover, knowing the variety of activities and sports that are being offered, the members in my community are able to adhere more to physical activity when committing to the type of sport they are most interested in. Furthermore, I benefited from this information because I now know that there are many organizations that are offering various types of physical activities that I enjoy doing without paying. Moreover, a lot of the organizations had volunteering opportunities that would be great to get involved with and further help grow the community and increase everyone’s physical health. It was also very interesting for me to know that there are already many community members that are willing to put in effort, time and energy to organize such incredible events and help promote health through exercise.” (Mahnaz)
“We are living in a society which is full of opportunities. Yet, we are often unaware of many of them. I believe knowing of sport and physical activity programs in the area would help us in making smarter decisions in choosing a sport/physical activity program for ourselves or our loved ones. Furthermore, the presence of a complete database of non-for profit sport/physical activity programs is a helpful resource for the community especially for those who may not be interested in investing on private programs. There are many free programs in this database that may be good resources for low-income families. Also, this database could be helpful for those who are interested in funding non-profit programs.” (Pegah)
“As a third year student in the Kinesiology and Health Science program at York University, I am constantly reminded that health is bio-psycho-social construct. We make decisions about our health based on the information presented to us via various mediums. Recently, digital media became a prominent source of information in our society. Developing a database that identifies non-profit community sport/physical activity organizations utilizes that stream of information, to raise awareness of their services. Knowing where all these services are gets us one step closer to actually using them. After contributing to the creation of the database, I can really say that I never thought so many health and exercise promoting organizations operate right under my nose.” (Dean)
What were your experiences with digital storytelling? What worked with the process and what didn't work?
“Making the digital story is a valuable experience, it requires careful planning and teamwork to execute a short but effective film production that is be clear and concise to the viewers watching. I think what works in these digital stories is keeping it simple and having a plan before you start filming the script.” (Dusan)
“The experience with the digital story telling was challenging because this was a creative piece and required a lot of managing, thinking and collaboration. Moreover, this aspect of the project required condensing a lot information about OPHEA and presenting it in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. It was very amusing working with different software and digital tools to make the video. There were numerous websites that offered great ways of creating neat storytelling videos. I very much liked the flexibility that my partner and I had in making the video because this allowed us to be creative in the style of video we preferred best.” (Mahnaz)
“Digital storytelling was a little bit more challenging than the other parts of this project. Initially it was difficult to reconcile creating a story with presenting dry facts and information about DSkate. Our first attempt was simply an overview of what DSkate is and what they do, which we quickly realized that it didn’t fit the criteria of a story. On our second try, we decided to present the information in such a way that it seemed as if the viewer was experiencing a day at DSkate. This allowed us to present the same information as before, while also keeping the viewer engaged to find out more about what would come next during their visit at DSkate.” (Angelo)
“Digital storytelling proved to be a more difficult undertaking than initially presumed. To tell a complex story, a story of struggle and perseverance, instead of outlining the unequivocal history of an organization and their current engagements, was a very difficult task. This is an opportunity unlike any other that I have had in my undergraduate career. To create a successful digital story, one must go through substantial critical thinking, one that is dependent on drawing on the emotions of the viewers, and critical thinking that is able to draw upon the personal impact that such programs can have. Therefore, I am very grateful and privileged to have had the opportunity to engage in this alternative form of expression, and this is a skill that I am certain I will use in the future.” (Shir)
“My experiences with digital storytelling expanded my understanding of how to use different methods and media to portray a message. My main challenge was how my team and I would portray the main message through a story that progressed through a series of concise, and specific events to led to the final goal. We had to refrain from simply producing a video that listed facts about the program. We highlighted the ongoing impact of community-based research at Kin Kids throughout our years of involvement with the program. In addition, since Kin Kids was a significant part of my team's journey throughout our undergraduate careers, we utilized this opportunity to portray how the program led to our personal growth from first year Kin students, to developing strong foundations in health and fitness research, and in-depth skillsets as physical activity leaders. It was truly an insightful experience to use such a unique method of outreaching and educating the community on the impact of Kin Kids for the participants, their families, and evidence based literature. Also, it was very rewarding to reflect on the impact of the program for my personal growth for my undergraduate career. I look forward to applying these newfound skills to my future aspirations in physiotherapy and research after convocation this summer.” (Victoria)
“I had never had the experience of making a digital storyline. However, watching many YouTube videos helped me out in brainstorming. Overall, making the script and the drawings were easy, however, my partner and I experienced a little bit of difficulty in producing and editing the video. For example, our video had some sounding problems and it was challenging for us to get rid of the noise. Therefore, we spent a large amount of time on figuring out how to make the best video with the least amount of resources that also resulted in a positive and friendly connection between my partner and I. Overall, it was a challenging but an interesting experience.” (Pegah)
“Before this opportunity, I had not worked on any other digital storytelling project before. Therefore, it took me a while to understand what is needed for a good digital story and how it must be done. At first we did not have a proper story to talk about, we recorded the video and it was very informational. It didn’t work. So we revised the story, created a character (named Kia) for our story, and focused more on emotions. The digital story was now very specific and from the point of view of Kia. When we showed that to some friends, we got positive feedback from them. It was then that I realized the importance of allowing the audience to connect with the character as well as the story.” (Arvin)