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Knowledge Mobilizers: Collaboration reaps rewarding benefits for SFU gerontology researchers

October 19, 2020

Knowledge Mobilizers is a story series from the Knowledge Mobilization Hub that highlights knowledge mobilization (KM) projects around the university. At SFU, KM is about collaborating on, and sharing, research discoveries to create a positive impact in our far-reaching communities.

By Lupin Battersby

Public spaces that address the needs of the 2.7-million Canadians living with a mobility disability are at the heart of a collaborative knowledge mobilization (KM) project involving SFU gerontology researchers Atiya Mahmood and Delphine Labbé. But the project delivered more than community impact, they say. Sharing their knowledge also reaped career and academic benefits.

As members of the national Canadian Disability Participation Project and a collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Labbé and Mahmood worked on the dEMAND project—Enabling Mobility and Participation Among Those with Disabilities. The project explored the barriers and facilitators to using assistive mobility devices to participate in, and move around, neighborhoods.

As project team members, Mahmood and Labbé worked with people in Metro Vancouver who use assistive mobility devices, city representatives, and other stakeholders. Together, they produced videos, a photo exhibit and an educational board game. They then showcased this work at two well-attended community forums that generated further interest.

“We received a number of invitations to present the materials to additional city staff, and at other related events,” says Mahmood. “Some of these invitations led to new partnerships on new projects.”

Labbé, who was doing her post doctorate at the time of the project, is now a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago.  She says derived significant career benefits from participating in the KM partnership.

“The knowledge mobilization activities generated a number of additional articles in academic publications,” says Labbé. “And during interviews for academic positions, review committees were impressed with our project’s engagement and creative activities.”

Attendees browse the displays at the community forum, which showcased project findings and knowledge mobilization tools by Labbé and Mahmood.

Mahmood and Labbé credit much of dEMAND’s success to its advisory committee, which included people with lived experience and community stakeholders, all of whom encouraged and supported the idea of  mobilizing the knowledge gleaned from the project. These enthusiastic participants turned co-researchers also contributed substantially, even starring in the videos.

Developing and following a knowledge mobilization and evaluation strategic plan was also crucial to the project’s successful outcome, as were internal funding and in-kind support from the SFU Community Engagement Initiative, which helped to pilot the first video production.  

Wondering how you might start mobilizing research with your community? Check out the Knowledge Mobilization Hub, attend a knowledge mobilization workshop, and get in touch with Lupin Battersby, the knowledge mobilization officer.

Interested in improving your knowledge mobilization skills? Here are our up-coming workshops: