Jan 16, 2023

Research alongside children, youth, families and communities: The Family and Child Health Initiative

Drs. Ian Zenlea and Dianne Fierheller, and team

Photo: Drs. Ian Zenlea and Dianne Fierheller, and the Family and Child Health Initiative team

Drs. Ian Zenlea and Dianne Fierheller co-lead the Family and Child Health Initiative in Ontario, and members of the Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children, provide an update on their group and more recent community-engaged research projects.

The Family and Child Health Initiative (FCHI) is a group of researchers and clinicians focused on improving the health and well-being of children, youth, and families in Peel Region, Ontario. FCHI was founded in 2018 with the generous financial support of an anonymous donor and various research grants. FCHI is an Institute for Better Health (IBH) led initiative at Trillium Health Partners (THP) in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, one of the largest, most diverse and growing communities in Ontario where our researchers work with a diverse group of children, youth, families, and communities in the area of paediatric healthcare. FCHI works in partnership with children, youth, families and communities as the voices, experiences, and knowledge of everyone that lives, plays, and works in Peel are needed to create programs and services that are inclusive, equitable, meaningful and long-lasting.

Current community-based work

FCHI is positioned at the intersection of healthcare and community, which allows the opportunity for learning and working alongside community members and organizations to understand strengths, issues, needs and priorities and work towards collectively creating services and innovations that support all families to be well. Constantly evolving, FCHI’s work has three main pillars:

  1. Engaging and building partnerships with the community;
  2. Deepening our understanding of the interconnected factors at the individual, family, institutional and systems levels that influence child and family health; and
  3. Co-designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to support child and family health and well-being with diverse communities

The Type 1 Diabetes Peer Support for Adolescents initiative is one example of the current projects FCHI is a part of. This Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded project aims to engage clinicians, researchers, community organizations, and people with lived experience in co-designing peer support interventions to support adolescents living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and their caregivers at the Diabetes Education Clinic at Trillium Health Partners. Digital storytelling is one of the approaches we are using to engage adolescents with T1D and their caregivers in sharing their experiences and identifying opportunities for peer support. Through a community event and co-design workshops, the team will co-create interventions and implementation toolkits for adoption by other paediatric diabetes clinics in Ontario and beyond.

Check out FCHI’s current projects here.

Are you interested in becoming a partner?

Whether you are a community member, service provider, researcher or student, please connect with us to share your ideas about child, youth and family health or how we might work together. We would love to hear from you! Reach out to dianne.fierheller@thp.ca.