Human Environments Avalysis Laboratory

Children's Health and the Environment Workshop & Symposium: Moving Research to Action for Healthy Kids

Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre
Western University; London, Canada
Date: June 26 - 28, 2017


An incredible group of speakers from across North America came to London June 2017 to share their latest work and insights related to children's health and the built environment in 3 key areas: access to healthy food, promoting healthy physical activity including active travel and play, and healthy outdoor play and mobility. We are inviting practitioners, policymakers, health promoters and providers, community service and care providers, designers and planners, educators and all others interested in providing healthy built environments for children, to join us for this informative and collaborative workshop. Collectively we will work to move evidence from research and successful interventions into action that will provide healthier environments for children in all communities.


The purpose of the workshop is to provide an effective forum for knowledge exchange and relationship building among leading researchers, policymakers, and practitioners concerned with children's health and the built environment. This intimate workshop and symposium will feature presentations on the latest in research evidence around healthy children's environments, as well as successful initiatives and interventions taking place around the world. Collectively we will discuss strategies for utilizing evidence from research and interventions to drive environmental and policy change, and to outline an action plan for next steps.

Overview of Workshop & Symposium

The last 10 years has produced the largest body of evidence to date verifying that the physical environments of children's homes, schools, neighbourhoods and cities can profoundly impact their healthy development. It is now time to translate this research knowledge into decisive action – to guide interventions, direct new practices, and support policy changes that will provide healthier, safer and more vibrant communities for our children.

In 2010, the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) of Western University hosted an international workshop on Children's Health and the Environment to solicit the latest in research efforts, and to identify gaps in knowledge and evidence. In June 2017, the HEAL will once again gather an international group of leading researchers, practitioners and policymakers in London, Ontario to examine how research evidence is underscoring successful interventions, informing best practices and providing healthier environments for children in Canada and around the world.

Each day of this 3-day workshop will focus on a key issue related to children's healthy environments. Day 1 will explore practices and policies that improve children 's access to healthy food environments, including at school and in their communities. Day 2 will focus on efforts to create home, school and community environments for healthy physical activity, including active travel and active play. Day 3 will emphasize initiatives and practices creating healthy outdoor and natural environments, including strategies for improving children's access to nature and 'risky' outdoor environments.

This 3-day international workshop aims to provide an engaging and effective forum for knowledge exchange and mobilization between a cross-disciplinary group of researchers, practitioners and policymakers concerned with healthy environments for children and youth. Workshop participants will hear of successful initiatives and interventions taking place around the world, and will collectively discuss strategies for utilizing evidence from research and interventions to drive environmental and policy change.

Who Attended?

The audience for this workshop included a diverse group of Canadian and international researchers, policymakers and practitioners who are concerned with providing environments supportive of the health and well-being of children and youth. The paper sessions, roundtable discussions, poster sessions, and planned networking opportunities will be of particular interest to policymakers, professionals and academics in the fields of architecture, education, epidemiology, geography, landscape architecture, planning, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. We are planning for a diversity of participants, as one of the desired outcomes of this workshop is the initiation of new interdisciplinary research or project teams to pursue additional interventions or initiatives aimed at improving the quality of built environments for children and youth.


An international group of researchers, practitioners and policy makers have been invited to report on both the current state of the research evidence and successful environmental or policy interventions that are positively impacting children's health or creating healthier built environments for them. Interactive discussions with speakers will identify ways we can all help to move the research to actions in support of healthy kids and communities.

Day 1:Healthy Food Environments

Dr. Jason Gilliland & Mayor Matt Brown
Welcome & Opening Remarks

Dr. Richard Sadler
Assistant Professor; Department of Family Medicine/Division of Public Health, Michigan State University

'Healthy food prescription' intervention at pediatric clinic/farmers' market

Dr. Richard Sadler is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Public Health at Michigan State University's Flint campus. His training in GIS and medical geography here at Western University positioned him effectively to serve a critical role in unveiling the Flint Water Crisis by identifying spatial clusters of pediatric elevated blood lead levels within Flint. Building on his existing food systems work and this involvement in the water crisis, his work as an affiliate in the MSU/Hurley Pediatric Public Health Initiative includes evaluating the impact of moving the Hurley Children's Clinic to the Flint Farmers' Market.

Two Peas in a Pod: Improving healthy food access via the colocation of the Hurley Pediatric Clinic with the Flint Farmers' Market

Ellen Gregg, RD
Public Health Nutritionist; Region of Waterloo

Recreation centre interventions to improve children's eating behaviours

Ellen Gregg is a Public Health Nutritionist with the Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services. Over the past ten years, Ellen has worked on food environments, workplace health, and mental health in relation to healthy eating and has researched the social, psychological and physical influences on individual health behaviours.
Prior to joining Public Health, Ellen held positions in clinical dietetics and food service management.
Ellen has studied at Ryerson University, University of Guelph and Hamilton Health Sciences. Beginning September 2017, Ellen will be completing a PhD through the School of Planning at University of Waterloo studying with Dr. Leia Minaker.

Addressing the Retail Food Environment in Recreation Settings in Southwestern Ontario community

Donna Smith, RD
Policy & Program Consultant, Nutrition Resource Centre

Children's food environments and municipal policy.

Donna Smith Donna Smith MPH is a Registered Dietitian and Policy and Program Consultant for the Nutrition Resource Centre. Donna's primary responsibilities include stakeholder engagement, knowledge translation, consultation and support for policy and programs across Ontario, research and resource development. Amongst her portfolio at NRC, some of Donna's main projects include: the MOHLTC's Healthy Kids Community Challenge, the MOHLTC's Diabetes Prevention Program/Primary Care Diabetes Prevention Program and policy consultation, including Bill 45, Making Healthier Choices Act, 2015. Donna holds a BA Sc. in Nutrition and Food with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Saskatchewan.

The Nutrition Resource - Facilitating Research into Action to Create Healthy Food Environments for Children and Youth in Ontario

Dr. Sean Doherty1 & Dr. Jason Gilliland2
1Geography & Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University ; 2Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, Western University

SmartAPPetite for Youth: Development and Evaluation of a Smartphone Program for Improving Adolescent Food Literacy and Healthy Eating.

SmartAPPetite for Youth: Development and Evaluation of a Smartphone Program for Improving Adolescent Food Literacy and Healthy Eating.

Rachel Schofield-Martin
Réseau des cafétérias communautaires, New Brunswick

Overview of community school cafeteria network that provides local and home-made meals in schools

Rachel is the healthy eating and social entrepreneurship coordinator at the District scolaire francophone Sud, in South Eastern New-Brunswick. She is the initiator of the entrepreneurial cafeteria concept, a community project that brought local food in the school cafeteria since 2011 and a new wave of opportunities to collaborate with numerous partners! Ms. Rachel Schofield Martin is a visionary, distinguished by her leadership, creativity, drive, passion and perseverance. Over the course of her career, she has been recognized on numerous occasions. In 2012, she received the title of teaching excellence from the New Brunswick Department of Early Childhood Development and Education. She lives in the rural community of Cocagne with her husband and their two daughters.

Creative Collaborations in Education for Healthy Outcomes!

Adriana Poulette & Kaylia Marquis
Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention project, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory

Healthy eating and food security programs and interventions for Kahnawake children and families.

Adriana Poulette is an Oneida Mik'maw woman originally from London, Ontario and now resides with her husband and three children in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake. Adriana is the research coordinator for the Healthier Nights for Healthier Days in Kahnawake Project and has fulfilled the roll of research assistant, data collector, and analyst on various KSDPP projects over the years. Adriana has a Political Science degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria.

Kaylia Marquis is a community‾based research assistant and food security projects coordinator with the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project. She is also a project coordinator for the grassroots Wahón:nise tho Niiohtón:ne group, which focuses on early childcare in her community. She holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology with a minor in Theatre, as well as a DEC in Interior Design, and has completed courses in Project Management, Community Design/Build, Sustainable Community Planning, and NABCEP‾certified training to design and install solar PV arrays. She is a mother of three and lives on the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.

The Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project

Dr. Sarah Woodruff Atkinson
Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Windsor

Evaluations of school-based nutrition interventions, including Northern Fruit & Vegetable Program

Sarah Woodruff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo. She is a multidisciplinary researcher who strives to advance the knowledge surrounding nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle behaviours among Canadian children and adolescents.

School Nutrition Programs: Lessons learned from evaluating the Northern Fruit and Vegetable Program

Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatoon

Food systems and security; Nutritional health inequalities; Community-based health promotion

Dr. Rachel Engler-Stringer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She has a doctorate in Nutrition and her research interests include community food security, food environments and food access, food system sustainability, health promotion, and community-based and participatory research. Dr Engler-Stringer is Principal Investigator on several studies including Smart Cities, Healthy Kids: Food Environment which examined the food environment in Saskatoon for families with children and Good Food for Learning a study examining food eaten in the school context in rural and urban schools in Saskatchewan with and without meal programs. She is also an avid cook and takes great satisfaction from growing some of her own food.

Lessons for Children's Food Environments at Home and at School: Contexts and Interventions for Health Equity

Dr. Jess Haines
Associate Professor, Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph

Creating healthy food environments for families at home

Jess Haines, PhD, MHSc, RD is an Associate Professor of Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Dr. Haines's current research is focused on testing family‾based interventions aimed at promoting healthful behaviours among young children. Along with colleagues at Harvard, she led a study which found that a home‾based intervention that targets routines associated with obesity risk, i.e., family meals, sleep, and screen time, can improve weight status in preschoolers. She is currently testing a similar intervention among Canadian families with young children through the Guelph Family Health Study.

Supporting Parents of Preschoolers in Creating Healthy Home Environments

Andrew Fleet
Growing Chefs! Ontario

The Growing Chefs! Ontario: Improving Children's Food Literacy

Stephanie Segave
Ontario Student Nutrition Program

Recent Interventions of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program Southwest

Dr. Danielle Battram
Brescia University College

Nutrition Ignition! A Comprehensive School-Based Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Program for School-Aged Children and Their Families

Nadine Devin & Dr. Anita Cramp
Middlesex County HKCC & Middlesex-London Health Unit

The Use of Awards and Incentives to Encourage the Adoption of Supportive Environmental Practices

Dr. Lana Vanderlee
Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto

Dr. Lana Vanderlee is a CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. Dr. Vanderlee has a PhD in Public Health from the University of Waterloo. Her research interests broadly examine the impact of food environment policies and interventions on health behaviours. Her current postdoctoral research identifies and evaluates government and industry food environment policies in Canada compared to some of the best practices internationally, in collaboration with INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity / non-communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support).

Food Environment Policy Impacts on Children: International and Canadian perspectives

Dr. Leia Minaker
School of Planning, University of Waterloo

Children's food environments and municipal policy.

Leia Minaker is an Assistant Professor in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo. Much of her work to date has focused on the retail food environments - how to measure them, how they are associated with dietary intake, and how to intervene in them. Dr. Minaker is particularly interested in working with planners figure out how to plan for healthy food access in cities. She recently received a Canadian Cancer Society Career Development Award in Cancer Prevention, and is especially interested in primary prevention of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

Kids in cities, kids in towns, kids in food swamps: drown, drown, drown

Dr. Mary McKenna1 & Suchitra Roy2
Professor and PhD Candidate, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of New Brunswick Fredericton

Interventions to improve school nutrition

Mary McKenna, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and an Assistant Dean (School of Graduate Studies) at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She teaches health and interdisciplinary studies and conducts research on school food and nutrition policies. She is active in several groups (locally, provincially and nationally) that promote healthy eating in schools. Dr. McKenna also worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Health Scientist. In 2015, she was the program chair for the Changing the Menu conference in Montreal, the first Canadian conference devoted to school food.

Ms. Suchitra Roy is a second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary studies at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in Fredericton. Prior to enrolling at UNB, she worked as a health professional outside Canada. She is interested in research on health promotion and nutrition in schools. Her PhD research will examine the implementation of school nutrition policy in New Brunswick schools. She plans to conduct case studies in schools that provide healthy school food and other positive food-related programs or initiatives. In 2016, she assisted with developing an assessment protocol designed to monitor the current status of implementation of the provincial school nutrition policy and also participated in a number of school visits to collect data for the assessment.

What's in a Policy: Variation among Provincial School Food and Nutrition Policies in Canada

Day 2: Environments Supporting Healthy Physical Activity

Dr. Candace Nykiforuk
Associate Professor; School of Public Health, University of Alberta

Physical activity interventions especially in rural areas; Development and diffusion of healthy public policies

Dr. Candace Nykiforuk is an Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Health Promotion Studies with the School of Public Health, University of Alberta. She holds a CIHR/PHAC/Alberta Innovates Applied Public Health Chair in public policy and community environments. She leads the PLACE Research Lab whose work examines relationships between physical and social environments, healthy public policy, and health outcomes, including impacts on health equity and on risk for cancer, obesity, and other chronic diseases. She has a special interest in rural built environment and health. Dr. Nykiforuk is an applied researcher, and her research is typically conducted in partnership with practitioners and decision-makers in the communities and other settings that she is working with. Her partners help to define project research questions and implement the project in meaningful ways. In turn, the research helps to address issues that the community partners are working with in their daily practice.

Vicky Kyriaco
General Manager, Ottawa Student Transportation Authority

Active transportation policies and initiatives for busing consortia

Vicky Kyriaco is the Chief Administrative Officer and General Manager of the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority. OSTA provides multi-modal transportation solutions for the students of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. The Ministry of Education recently rated OSTA as a highly efficient consortium.
Under Vicky's leadership, OSTA has evolved into an organization that integrates sustainable mobility, and active modes of transportation, as essential components in promoting the health and well-being of children across the city today, and in the future.
Being in the transportation industry for the past 20 years, Vicky has extensive experience with transporting passengers and cargo using many different modes of transportation, both by ground and by air. Combined with her previous experience as a teacher, her current position brings together her interest in developing Ottawa's next generation with the means to move them into tomorrow. She was named Ottawa's Businesswoman of the Year for 2016.
Vicky and her partner have three boys who attend three different schools. Nobody gets a bus by design. Her family enjoys walking, biking, scootering and roll-blading to all three schools.

Colleen Hill1 & Kate Berry2
1Manager; Heart Heathy Children and Youth, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada; 2Senior Program Manager for Active & Safe Routes to School, Green Communities Canada

Provincial framework for healthy, active kids

Colleen Hill is the Manager for Children and Youth and Indigenous Health with the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. She is a passionate community builder, advocate and champion, who works on projects and issues that are dear to her heart - children's health and wellbeing, the arts and the environment. For more than 25 years, Colleen has dedicated her passion and her talents to community engagement, partner and funder relations and strategic communications skills in academic, public and not-for-profit positions. Colleen has enjoyed a colourful career so far at the local, national and international levels in early childhood education, as curator at an international children's film festival and as an educator and advocator of AIDS awareness and prevention in rural America. Originally from Sudbury, Colleen studied at the University of Guelph, spent three years teaching at the University of Wyoming and now lives in Toronto with her two children and their dog.

Kate Berry is Senior Program Manager for the Active and Safe Routes to School program at Green Communities Canada. Her team works with school boards, municipalities, public health and NGOs to promote active school travel and implement School Travel Planning in Ontario. Kate is a civil engineer and worked for several years at Sustrans, a leading UK sustainable transport charity, managing the design and construction of active transportation infrastructure. Kate has also worked in Ontario as School Traffic Plan Coordinator for the Upper Grand District School Board, working with schools to improve traffic safety, reduce vehicle congestion and increase student active travel.

Dr. Trish Tucker
Assistant Professor; School of Occupational Therapy, Western University

Environmental influences on physical activity in child care settings

Dr. Trish Tucker is an Assistant Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy and Research Director of the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab at Western University. Dr. Tucker is recognized for her research which aims to measure, understand, and influence physical activity participation among you children, specifically preschoolers. Her current research has focused largely on the childcare environment, with considerable effort devoted to understanding how this environment influences physical activity participation, and she is currently wrapping up a large randomized controlled trial (the SPACE study), to see the impact of a centre-based childcare intervention on preschoolers' physical activity levels.

Dr. Jason Gilliland & Dr. Andrew Clark
Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, Western University

ACT-i-Pass intervention to promote children's physical activity

Jason Gilliland is Director of the Urban Development Program and Professor of Geography, Paediatrics, Health Studies and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Western University. He is also a Scientist with the Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. His research examines environmental influences on children's health issues such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and injury. He is Director of the Human Environments Analysis Lab, which specializes in community-based research and identifying interventions to public policy and neighbourhood design to promote the quality of life of vulnerable populations. The HEALab is currently supported by Children's Health Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Andrew Clark is Project Coordinator and Evaluation Coordinator of the Grade 5 ACT-i-Pass Program in the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory at Western University. His research focuses on how the individual, social, and built environments influence children's ability to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Andrew's most recent community-based research has focused on programmatic and environmental interventions that help to increase children's physical activity, active transportation, and healthy eating. These interventions include the Grade 5 ACT-i-Pass, Active & Safe Routes to School, Ontario Student Nutrition Program, and SmartAPPetite.

Emily Van Kesteren1, Tara MacDaniel1 & Pam Ewart2
1Public Health Nurse, Middlesex-London Health Unit; 2Elgin-St.Thomas Public Health

School Travel Planning: Walking in Partnership for Supportive Environments

Emily Van Kesteren, RN, a Public Health Nurse at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, combines her professional, personal and academic passions for children's health and the built environment as leader of the Active & Safe Routes to School of Elgin-St. Thomas, London, Middlesex and Oxford. Emily completed her Masters of Geography from Western University with a thesis on the influence of parents' and children's perceptions of their built and social environments on children's mode of school travel.

Tara MacDaniel, RN, is a Public Health Nurse with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, and currently enrolled in the Masters in Health Studies program at the University of Athabasca. As a Nurse in elementary schools, Tara supports schools to deliver comprehensive health promotion programs using the Ministry of Education's framework, Foundations for Healthy Schools. Tara has a passion for health promotion, to achieve optimal health and well-being for children and youth in the community.

Pam Ewart, RN, is a Public Health Nurse at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health working as a school nurse on the School Team and is the Physical Activity Lead for the health unit. She has been a member of the tri-county Elgin London Middlesex Oxford - Active and Safe Routes to School Committee since 2012 and was co-chair from 2013 - 2015. With her roles at the health unit, she has been a facilitator and/or co-facilitator with School Travel Planning (STP) schools in Elgin-St. Thomas.

Dr. Jamie Spinney
Assistant Professor, South Dakota State University

Overview of research evidence and successful interventions related to children's active travel to school

Jamie Spinney is an accomplished social scientist, who is best described as a broadly-trained geographer, with professional training as a geography teacher, an adult educator, an urban/ regional planner, and a geomatics specialist. His research interests and experience are inherently interdisciplinary; his focus is applied research with direct implications for contemporary social, economic, and environmental issues, particularly as they relate to planning smart, healthy, and sustainable communities. He has an active and collaborative research program aimed at the confluence of applied behavioural geography and community planning.

Linnaea Jasiuk1 & Community Mentor TBA2
1MProgram Officer for Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) Program, Right to Play;
2Southern Ontario Community Mentor (TBA) for PLAY Program

Program to improve child and youth outcomes around education and health, including physical activity

Linnaea Jasiuk is a Program Officer with the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) Program at Right To Play. She has a varied background in play and sport-for-development, having worked as a Residence Life Manager, an outdoor-education specialist and as a decorated varsity lacrosse athlete herself. Linnaea recently completed a MA in Geography at the University of Guelph where she focused on community and cultural responsiveness in health promotion programs. She combines an academic understanding and practical experiences delivering community-based sport and wellness programs. Since joining the PLAY Program in 2015 Linnaea has supported programming in over a dozen communities and urban centers across Ontario. Additionally, in this role Linnaea collaborates on the development and delivery of a variety of projects including the Play for Prevention program, which aims specifically at diabetes prevention among other life-skills, community stabilization efforts and STEM activity resource development, among others.

Southern Ontario Community Mentor. Community Mentors are PLAY program youth workers. Each community partner recruits and hires a local youth worker called a Community Mentor to deliver weekly safe and inclusive play-based programming. Community Mentors have a plethora of experience working with youth and doing community building and development. At the core of all PLAY programs are ideas, wants and needs of the youth themselves, which are harnessed by the dedication and support from the local Community Mentor.

Loretta Ryan
Director of Public Affairs, Ontario Provincial Planners Institute

Community planning strategies to support healthy communities for children's healthy activity and mobility

Loretta Ryan is a Registered Professional Planner and Director of Public Affairs for the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI). Loretta provides leadership in the development and delivery of the Institute's public policy and communications. She is the staff lead on the Institute's Healthy Communities, Sustainable Communities initiative.
Prior to coming to OPPI, Loretta worked at the Toronto Board of Trade where she was responsible for the planning-related standing committees. Previous to this she was a Policy Advisor and Community Planner for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing where she worked in both operational and policy areas of the Ministry.

Dr. Dan Rainham
Director, Environmental Science Program, Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University

Advancing intervention to reduce risk of obesity in children

Daniel is an Associate Professor and holds an endowed Chair in Sustainability and Environmental Health at Dalhousie University. Working at the interface of population health science, environmental epidemiology and health geography his research and teaching efforts focus on people- environment interactions and how these interactions affect health. These efforts are supported by innovations in wearable sensors and spatial analytics, and have most recently been applied to patient management strategies, physical activity interventions and empirical research on the role of nature contact in supporting healthy behaviours in children and youth.

Russell Brownlee
Principal of Transportation Safety, 30 Forensic Engineering

School site planning and designing for safety

Russell is the Principal of 30 Forensic Engineering's Transportation Safety Group and has over 20 years of public and private sector experience in the areas of road user and rail safety, transportation engineering, and transportation planning. At 30 Forensics, he conducts forensic investigations and safety reviews relating to transportation facility design, construction, operations, and maintenance. Over his career, he has undertaken numerous school area operational safety reviews, developed the Region of Durham guideline for the placement and design of schools, and was a primary contributor to ITE's Recommended Practice: School Site Planning, Design and Transportation.

Day 3: Healthy Outdoor and Natural Environments

Dr. Jennifer Vanos
Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography & the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, UC San Diego

Biometric evaluation of the health impacts of children's environmental exposure

Dr. Jennifer Vanos is an Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego who holds a joint appointment between Family Medicine and Public Health (School of Medicine) and the Department of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography (Scripps Institution of Oceanography). She received her PhD from the School of Environment Sciences at the University of Guelph in Atmospheric Science, followed by a Post-Doctoral position at Health Canada in Environmental Health Sciences, and a faculty position at Texas Tech University.
Dr. Vanos' research focuses on connecting weather and climate to human health in urban areas, with specific focus on extreme heat, radiation, and air pollution. Working with various types of modeled and observed climate, weather, and human health data, Dr. Vanos examines the interactions of exposures in vulnerable urban subpopulations, specifically children, and how exposures couple with bioclimatic landscape and urban design strategies. Pursuing these inter-connected research areas is a vital component for human adaption to urban growth, climate variability, and small-scale extremes that influence health acute or chronic outcomes.

Dr. Cathy Jordan
Associate Professor; Division of Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota
Consulting Research Director; Children & Nature Network

Developmental impact of outdoor experiences on children and youth; community engagement for activating research

Dr. Cathy Jordan is Research Director for the Children & Nature Network (C&NN) and a current member, and former chair, of the Minnesota Children and Nature Connection. Her work focuses on promoting child health, learning and development through nature-based play and learning. As Research Director, she oversees the identification, summarizing, tagging and activation of research about children and nature from diverse fields and sectors and from around the world. She leads the National Science Foundation grant "The Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network." Dr. Jordan, pediatric neuropsychologist by training, is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Mariana Brussoni
Associate Professor, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia

The importance of outdoor risky play for child health and development

Dr. Mariana Brussoni is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and investigator with BC Children's Hospital Research Institute and the BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Mariana investigates child injury prevention, including developmental importance of children's risky play and how the built outdoor environment impacts children's play.

Shawna Babcock
Coordinator, Outdoor Play Canada

Role of outdoor play for children's health; Impacts of the Position Statement on Outdoor Play

Shawna Babcock is the founder and Executive Director of the charitable organization, KidActive - Healthy Children, Communities & Environment.

Focused on healthy child development, education, equity, access to play rich natural environments and multi-sector collaboration, Shawna has contributed to the development of local, provincial and national outdoor play, active transportation and healthy community initiatives. She is one of the co-authors for the Position Statement for Active Outdoor Play in Canada and current co-ordinator for the newly formed collaborative, Outdoor Play Canada. Most importantly, Shawna is the parent of 3 amazing children. She is raising them in the Ottawa Valley and playing as much as possible in the natural spaces that surround them.

Brenda Simon
Earth Day Canada

Outdoor Play and Learning in School Communities (OPAL) project; Relationship between outdoor school environments and children's happiness and well-being

Brenda Simon is a graduate of the law and environmental studies program at York University and later studied education at the University of Toronto. She has worked as a human rights lawyer, a co-op housing developer, and in community education. Brenda has conducted extensive research into play policy and planning and piloted POP-UP Adventure Play in Toronto for two years before joining Earth Day Canada as the Director of Play Programs. Brenda is the first certified OPAL mentor in Canada and is gratified to have been able to work with the TDSB to bring the Outdoor Play and Learning model to 6 pilot schools in Toronto.

Cam Collyer & Heidi Campbell1 & Dr. Janet Loebach2
1Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds
2 Principal Consultant; Thrive Design Consulting

Impacts of natural schoolyard interventions on outdoor activities and behaviour of young children

Cam is the Executive Director, Programs at Evergreen, overseeing and developing Evergreen's evolving national suite of programs that connect people, natural and the built world to make cities flourish. Since joining Evergreen in 1997, Cam developed Evergreen's national award-winning school ground greening program into an international leader in the field, developed the award-winning suite of children's programs at Evergreen Brick Works, and has overseen national initiatives engaging communities in neighbourhood greening and food gardening. Cam is a co-founder of the International School Ground Alliance and sits on the board of directors of Green Teacher magazine and Green Schoolyards America. He is currently on the national advisory committee for Parks for All as well as the Canadian Outdoor Play Working group. Cam is a regular presenter at conferences, universities and in the media on topics of children and nature, school ground greening and outdoor education.

Heidi is the Senior Designer for Evergreen. She has a Master's degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. She started with Evergreen in 2001 as their School Ground Design Consultant at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Evergreen's first partnership agreement with a board of education. Heidi helped the TDSB to evolve a strategic direction for greening school grounds with a strong emphasis on creating natural play environments inclusive of tree planting, trail building, natural play elements and the provision of shade to protect children from UVR. A qualified teacher with a focus on place-based learning, she has worked in a variety of outdoor contexts with artists, teachers, and volunteers to envision and co-create natural learning environments for children.

Janet Loebach is an environmental design researcher and consultant based in Ontario, Canada, and the Principal Consultant for Thrive Design Consulting. Her research and practice focuses on children's perception and use of their everyday environments, including home, school and neighbourhood, and the socio-environmental factors which influence children's behaviour and well-being. Her areas of expertise include assessment and design of natural and built play and learning environments for children, as well as residential, healthcare and care facilities. She also has extensive experience with participatory, child-led and community-based planning processes. Janet currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the International Play Association (Canada) and as co-chair of the Children & Youth Environments Network of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).

Dr. Jason Gilliland
Human Environments Analysis Laboratory, Western University

Review of the impact of exposure to nature on the health and development of children

Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature: Highlights from a Systematic Review of the Evidence

Jason Gilliland is Director of the Urban Development Program and Professor of Geography, Paediatrics, Health Studies and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at Western University. He is also a Scientist with the Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. His research examines environmental influences on children's health issues such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and injury. He is Director of the Human Environments Analysis Lab, which specializes in community-based research and identifying interventions to public policy and neighbourhood design to promote the quality of life of vulnerable populations. The HEALab is currently supported by Children's Health Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Lisa Nisbet
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Trent University

Connectedness to nature, and the links to health, well-being and environmentally sustainable behaviour

Elizabeth (Lisa) Nisbet is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Trent University. Her research encompasses personality, social, health, and environmental psychology, exploring individual differences in 'nature relatedness' and the links between human-nature relationships, health, happiness, and sustainable behaviour. Her work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and appears in Environment and Behavior, Canadian Psychology, the Journal of Happiness Studies, and Psychological Science. Dr. Nisbet teaches courses on health psychology, emotion and motivation, personality, environmental health, and environmental psychology.

Dr. Nicole Yantzi
Associate Professor, School of the Environment; Director, Children's Health Outcomes (ECHO) Research Centre, Laurentian University

Inclusive public outdoor spaces supporting community and child health

Dr. Nicole Yantzi is an associate professor in the School of the Environment at Laurentian University. She is the current director of the Evaluating Children's Health Outcomes research center at Laurentian University. Her research, teaching and advocacy work focuses on ensuring the accessibility and inclusiveness of children's environments. Another area of focus is advocating for the inclusion of all children and youth as active research participants and valuing their ideas for change. Dr. Yantzi has worked collaboratively with school boards, service providers and municipalities, and children and families to evaluate and improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of children's built environments.

Michael Reid & Community Partners
TNC Canada Community Conservation Coordinator

Overview of engagement program to empower First Nations youth as environmental stewards


Each day of the conference is scheduled to start at 8:30am and wrap up by 4:30pm.

View Detailed Schedules for each day!

Day 1 - Healthy Food Environments - Practices and policies that improve children's access to healthy food, including in school and community environments.

Day 2 - Environments for Healthy Physical Activity - efforts to create home, school and community environments for healthy physical activity, including active travel and active play.

Day 3 - Healthy Outdoor and Natural Environments - Initiatives and practices creating healthy outdoor and natural environments, including strategies for improving children's access to nature and 'risky' outdoor environments.


Organizing Children's Health and the Environment Workshop & Symposium: Moving Research to Action for Healthy Kids would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors.

Please join us in thanking the following organisations for their support:

Clara's Drawing
"A good City" by Clara, age 7