Collective Action for COVID-19 Recovery: Co-Designing Physical Activity Interventions with you and Caregivers in Peel

The Peel Family Support Network (PFSN) is a cross-sectoral collaborative comprised of 26 community organizations that came together in response to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on families. The PFSN enables partners to share experience, knowledge and resources, while providing accessible, wrap-around, and virtual support to families who identify from diverse communities across the region through the Parenting Through The Pandemic Portal. The PFSN is currently conducting a community needs assessment to better understand what youth, caregivers, and families might need during COVID-19 cycles of closure and reopening and how these needs might be met through the portal. The needs assessment highlights engaging in physical activity as a challenge for families. Literature shows the important connection between physical activity and overall mental and physical health outcomes for youth, caregivers, and families. This project seeks to understand the experiences and impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on the physical activity of children, youth, caregivers, and families including factors that were protective or exacerbated these impacts. This knowledge will be used to generate actionable ideas and to co-design family physical activity interventions with youth, caregivers, families, and service providers in Peel.

We use a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to engage a Community Advisory Board (CAB), in partnership, to guide all aspects of the project.

PHASE 1: Focuses on developing the CAB with diverse representation from community organizations, caregivers, families, youth, and researchers.

PHASE 2: Uses Photovoice methods to gather the diverse experiences of youth ages 12-24 and caregivers of children or youth ages 0-24 (12-15 each) and their reflections on the impacts of the pandemic on the physical activity of children, youth, caregivers, and families.

PHASE 3: This study engages youth, caregivers, families, and service providers in a 3-day ‘Hackathon’ event to co-design physical activity interventions for families and methods for future implementation, feasibility trials, and evaluation that will address the themes identified during Phase 2.

This project builds from the collective response of the PFSN to demonstrate that physical activity services can be more meaningful, accessible, and inclusive if they are intentionally co-designed with community needs and values in mind. Through applying CBPR methods, this project challenges historical research traditions where interventions are typically designed by professionals and academics without the experiential knowledge of adolescents and caregivers. The engagement and evaluation of person-centred participatory methods employed in this project could be applied to co-designing other community-level interventions for children, youth, and families in diverse communities.

PARTNERSHIPS: City of Brampton, Free for All Foundation, McGill University, Peel Family Education Centre, Region of Peel, Unity Health Toronto, University of Toronto, Vita Centre

FUNDER: Canadian Institutes of Health Research