Current Project

Pathways to Belonging

The Pathways to Belonging (P2B) research project aims to understand how young adults with IDD find places of belonging and meaning, and what paths they take to get to these destinations. To achieve this aim, the P2B project seeks the perspectives of young adults (18-35 years) with IDD and the perspectives of those who support them to navigate these path, such as their family members (e.g., parents, siblings) and service providers.

Over the next three years, this inclusive research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) aims to interview 15 young adults with IDD, 15 parents of young adults with IDD, and 15 service providers of young adults with IDD in the Greater Toronto Area. If you are interested in participating in this project, please visit Participate. Interviews will begin in Winter 2018/Spring 2019.

In keeping with our past projects, we use inclusive methods. Young adults with IDD, family members, and service providers are included as actively-involved members of our research team.

Using a participatory toolkit, which include visual- (e.g., multimedia) and arts- (e.g., mixed media) based methods, this inclusive research project will ask young adults and those in their support networks (e.g., parents and service providers) to talk about people (e.g., friends, family, co-workers, co-volunteers), activities (e.g., social, work, and leisure activities), and places (e.g., social, physical, virtual, emotional) of belonging and meaning (or not) in their lives. They will also be asked to describe the pathways which connect young adults with IDD to these people and places in their lives.

Participating young adults will also be asked to make a “map” to represent these important places, people, and activities they associate with belonging and meaning (or not) using a process called “social participatory mapping”. The goal of using this hands-on, arts-based method is to facilitate active involvement of  young adults with IDD who participate in the study to voice their perspectives and talk about their experiences in a supported way that is meaningful to them.

Our previous research has contributed to our understanding of what aspects of community life foster belonging with youths with IDD from their own perspective. More information about the Voices of Youths (VOY) project can be found under past projects. Our current project, P2B, will further our understanding of how young adults with IDD navigate and negotiate the multiple pathways to belonging they traverse each day. The VOY project also highlighted that sometimes the paths that youths with IDD would like to take or the destinations they desire for themselves may not match the pathways their supporters (or society) have set out or expect for them.

At times, for the youths who participated in VOY, this mismatch led to roadblocks (e.g., points of tension) that created barriers to belonging and meaning for them. We want to engage more deeply with these potential roadblocks by interviewing (all separately) young adults, parents, and service providers to understand how these pathways are viewed from multiple vantage points. While the perspectives of young adults are still central within our inclusive research design, in order to better understand these roadblocks, we feel it is important to also hear the perspectives of others in the home and community networks of young adults with IDD.