The research that gets me most excited is when I collaborate with communities and/or community practice (i.e. agencies and organizations). My projects have varied, but my research is mostly done in and with communities and recreation organizations. For me, research is a toolbox that supports discovery and exploration. My research is about asking questions to build empathy and understand complex issues so that individuals, communities and organizations can better serve their residents and members; that is what my research is all about!
My research projects have varied but include the following topics: poverty & access and inclusion; recreation and depressed economies; recreation and community resilience; recreation and community development; and community-based leisure education systems. Below are some descriptions of my project work.
Reimagining Sport, Recreation and Leisure Provisions for Equity Deserving NB Residents
This project is dedicated to understanding where in/exclusionary mechanisms in sport, recreation and leisure provisions exists, and how to redesign and reimagine access provisions to better support equity deserving citizens' participation. This research is being conducted in collaboration with NB's Economic Social Inclusion Corporation and NB's Tourism, Heritage and Culture branch. This work is currently underway!
COVID-19's Impact on Rural, Low-Income Families' Wellbeing
Working in partnership with Dr. Mary Sweatman from Acadia University, we received SSHRC funding to examine COVID-19's pandemic impact on rural low-income mothers and their capacity to facilitate leisure to support their families' well-being. We found the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected rural low-income mothers due to intersecting and compounding factors such as gender, race, income, and disability, among others. To mitigate these oppressive structures, the municipal recreation department played a critical role in supporting access to leisure for rural low-income families. This project is complete, and publications and presentations are being developed.
Community Sport & Recreation Organizations' Strategies For Inclusion
Community sport clubs and recreation organizations (CSROs) are the front-line providers for ensuring that children, youth and their families are engaged in meaningful community activities. These organizations are also largely underfunded and often lack the resources and support required to ensure access to activities is possible for all. As federal-level sport and recreation policies want to tackle inclusion in sport and recreation, community sport and recreation organizations experience heightened pressures to create more accessible and inclusive provisions for those excluded from sport, including those with low-incomes. My graduate student, Megan Fortune, and I were curious about how these clubs and organizations support inclusion and navigate facilitating third-party fee assistance programs (FAPs) (i.e. Kid Sport, Jumpstart). FAPs are a popular means of addressing the financial barriers low-income families face. Still, research hasn't examined CSROs' experiences facilitating these programs nor the other inclusion strategies they provide low-income families. We found that CSROs work hard at inclusion and that most provisions focused on financial access and equipment. CSROs have barriers to facilitating third-party FAPs, and more support from FAPs administrators is required. This project has just wrapped up, and publications and presentations are currently underway!
Access & Inclusion: Municipal Recreation Professionals' Perspectives
Municipal recreation practitioners play an incredibly important role in supporting individual and community well-being; however, citizens with low-incomes often struggle to access recreation provisions. Working solo, I wanted to unpack and understand how municipal recreation directors in NB and NS understood "access" to recreation for citizens with low-incomes and how they made recreation provisions accessible. This study found that practitioners often associated access largely with lack of finances, which overshadowed social, environmental and policy factors that create barriers to participation for citizens with low-incomes. As a result, most access provisions practitioners developed that targeted citizens with low-incomes were focused on reducing costs. While great work is happening in communities across NB and NS, more robust support is required to increase access to recreation for low-income citizens. This project is complete with publications and presentations.
Community-Based Leisure Ed. Delivery System & Poverty
While working in collaboration with a non-profit organization, Recreation Opportunities for Children Inc (ROC), we designed and implemented a recreation delivery system that supports low-income children's leisure participation. Through the principles of community participatory research, social innovation (human centre design), community development and leisure education, we (parents, staff and students( co-created a community-based leisure education delivery system. The results of the project have had three significant impacts:
We discovered four key provisions that create access to leisure for low-income families.
We created a delivery system where parents and children experienced numerous physical, social and emotional benefits.
We identified several exclusionary mechanisms within community recreation and sport systems.
This delivery system continues to operate today. For more details about ROC's awesome and innovative work clickhere.
Depressed Economies & Recreation Delivery Systems
Some of my research has explored how economic restructuring or depressed economies, i.e., mine or mill closures or industry collapses, have impacted community recreation delivery systems, families, and residents. Through this work, we discovered how recreation and leisure could be utilized to support community resilience and development. This work also highlighted changes in residents' leisure behaviour, and where and how community recreation systems needed to adapt to support communities through significant social and economic change.