A new partnership established by UBC researchers may lead to a more targeted approach to children’s health and well-being, and the specific health risks children face in the Southern Interior.
Paediatric exercise physiologist Ali McManus, along with Lesley Lutes, a registered clinical psychologist, a health psychologist, and a UBC associate professor of psychology, will lead a pioneering, two-year, research and outreach project investigating the health and wellness status of children and adolescents in Kelowna.
Their study aims to determine whether the physical and emotional health issues of youth in Kelowna reflect national trends or if they are unique to the region. Their goal is to eventually create a scalable, evidence-based health and wellness index for Kelowna children and youth.
The project, made possible by Tree of Hope with $100,000 in funding from both TD Bank Group and Landmark Centre, will launch in the new year.
“By identifying the health and wellness needs of young people in Kelowna, we will provide the stimulus for the development and delivery of future targeted health and wellness initiatives,” says McManus, an associate professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Most importantly, this health and wellness screening tool will act as a long-term evaluation system of future health and wellness initiatives.
“We are grateful to TD and the Landmark Centre for their support of this research and for helping us move towards addressing some important issues in children’s health.”
Previously, McManus has developed and tested a variety of materials to help measure health, including wearable technologies, wearable microelectronics, mobile body composition measurements, mobile measures of cardiovascular risk and measures of psychological health.
In Lutes’ previous research, she has conducted randomized clinical trials to improve well-being and happiness, and multiple health behaviour-change interventions focussed on underserved and rural populations, as well as studying people who struggle with chronic health conditions and depression.
“Tree of Hope is committed to supporting initiatives that solve local challenges with innovative solutions, well-being" says the Tree of Hope’s Carolyn Stober. "We are delighted to facilitate a donation from TD and Landmark Centre that supports professor McManus’s research that we believe will improve the well-being of children and youth in our community.”
“TD is proud to support this important community initiative led by UBC with the aim to improve the health and well-being of children in BC and across Canada,” says Dale Safinuk, district vice-president – BC Southern Interior, TD Canada Trust. “Supporting this project is one of the many ways TD is giving back to the communities in which we live and work.”
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there are a number of health issues affecting Canadian children, including obesity, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. The study will also look at psycho-social indicators of health such as levels of anxiety experienced by study participants.