Current Projects

ABLE2: Support for People with Disabilities

ABLE2 supports people of all ages across the disability spectrum and their families to live life as valued members of their communities. ABLE2's Matching Program has always believed that community connection is the way to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities and mental health challenges can live a good life and enrich their home community. ABLE2 matches volunteers in the community (Allies) with a person with a disability (Friend) in an intentional relationship. The impacts for the person with a disability when someone chooses to be in their life are profound: reduced loneliness and isolation, developing personal networks, decreased vulnerability, increased self-confidence, and improved health (mental and physical). The needs of this vulnerable community have always been greater than the numbers of volunteers. COVID-19 has only exacerbated this problem. Currently, ABLE2 has 184 Friends on our waiting list, with many waiting over two years to be matched with an Ally in their community.

ABLE2's proposed project is a review of and recommendations for our volunteer recruitment and retention program, including reviewing our Volunteer Handbook. This review can include a survey, focus groups and a segmentation study on the current volunteer population. This study would provide insight into our Allies' personality or demographic characteristics, leading to targeted recommendations on approaches and strategies for recruiting volunteers.

It is critical to reduce the number of Friends on the waiting list and give them a doorway into their communities.

Little Forest Kingston: Youth-led Neighborhood Climate Resilience Assessment Project

Little Forest Kingston is a local grassroots group focused on reforestation of urban spaces  with diverse native species inspired by the Miyawaki method. The reforestation is based on local landscape conditions and planted intensively at 300 trees/100 sq meters. Miyawaki forests have shown rapid growth, with beneficial effects on biodiversity, carbon sequestration, management of stormwater and microclimate cooling, thus strengthening the climate resilience of the local ecology. Local communities are involved in planning, planting and caring for the Little Forest.

Higher density neighborhoods with limited canopy are at risk for heat island effects and flooding. Therefore, it is important that these communities understand the impact of the local ecology on the microclimate resilience of their neighborhood and what they can do about it as a community, including reforestation on public lands. We believe that youth who live in the neighborhood hold a great potential to lead change while centering the needs of their families, neighbors and elders. 

A collaboration of community partners (Little Forest Kingston, Pathways to Education Kingston [tentative], Kingston Secondary School, and neighborhood youth leaders) aim to create a toolkit that can be used by youth to carry out an assessment of the climate resilience of their neighborhoods. The PhD-CI team will work with our community team to create/codesign the Neighborhood Climate Resilience Assessment to measure these important parameters. The methodology will be piloted in Summer 2022 in a student employment project, led by a mentor.

The assessment method will be easy to use and low cost. It will include a process for youth to explore their own questions about their neighbourhood microclimate and its impact on community life. The method will include mapping, field measurements (e.g., temperature, rainfall, tree diameter-at-breast height), talking to neighbours about the neighbourhood and the compilation of statistical neighborhood level data. We will map and describe public lands, water access, playgrounds and outdoor spaces where people gather (including elders) with a view to vulnerability to heat island effects. Potential spaces for reforestation and solar capture will be identified. 

Royal Kingston Curling Club

The Royal Kingston Curling Club (RKCC) is a non-profit organization run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Established in 1820, the club celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2020 and is the second-oldest curling club in North America!

Our mission is to enhance the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of our members and the community as a whole. To serve the community better, we would like to determine how to best utilize our facility and evaluate our current services in order to provide high value for our members and attract new members to the club. We currently offer curling from October to mid-April, and in the summer we have facilities for beach volleyball and pickle ball. We think there may be expansion opportunities for these sports, but also to offer other organized activities for the community, such as yoga, cooking classes, and games, including bridge and mah-jong. We also have other facilities that may be of interest for community or private events. As we look forward, we also wish to ensure that we are best serving the diverse Kingston community, and so we place a high value on equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigeneity.  

We would like support from the PhD-Community Initiative to investigate the needs of our membership and the broader community in order to further contribute to our mission. Questions important to us include: What are the needs of our members and the broader community? How can we grow our membership? How can we increase revenues to support our operations (through, for example, the renting of our facilities) to ensure our long-term sustainability? We welcome your thought-provoking ideas to help our club with these challenges. We hope to provide you with a fun challenge and look forward to your ideas that will help lead us to tactics and actionable strategies.

Learn more a bout the RKCC from this booklet created in honour of its 200th anniversary (PDF 3098KB).

Forest School in a Public School Setting (Limestone District School Board)

We are currently running a Forest School program at our public elementary school to better meet the needs of our students. 

We would like to collect data on our students, examining the behavioural impact this extended time outdoors in a natural setting has on children. We are specifically interested in children who are at risk of, or diagnosed with ADHD, ADD or other behavioural disorders and how this program can help them in particular. We are interested in a quantitative study that is as scientifically rigorous as possible within the rules and regulations currently in place. 

City of Kingston

1. Social Enterprise Sustainability and Growth

Social enterprises play a critical role in our economy, particularly for socio-economic program delivery. The global pandemic further highlighted the vital contribution of these organizations and the continued need for their services. But there exists a need to provide support (in the form of mentorship, training and skills development, and resources - human and financial) to many existing organizations to ensure sustainability, growth, and operational success. There is also an opportunity to build out a ‘social enterprise incubator’ for new groups looking to create impact in our community. This project aligns with Kingston City Council Priorities and Queen’s University Principal’s vision for Queen’s in the Community.

2. Mayor’s Innovation Challenge 2.0 - Taking municipal innovation to the next level!

The Kingston Mayor’s Innovation Challenge (MIC) was established in 2018 with the goal of engaging post-secondary education students to develop innovative ideas for a wide range of challenges faced by the City. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, the project continues to grow in student participation, scope and format. What is needed is an assessment of how to take the MIC to the next level of creating impact. Do we, for example, expand the challenge themes, do we extend the program to all students or any resident? Do we have a business category? Do we change/increase the prizes (in the past, paid summer jobs and capital to implement ideas were offered to winning teams). Do we try to build the MIC into academic course/program curriculum to expand participation? Working with the Office of Strategy, Innovation & Partnerships and the Office of the Mayor, a strategy and vision need to be developed with the participation of a number of community partners.

3. Animating a Food Security Strategy

One of the strongest demands for service during the pandemic was the need for food.  A number of community organizations and the City are involved in a wide range of projects to facilitate and implement opportunities for residents to produce, distribute, and access more local food and to facilitate the development of new social enterprises, support donations to local food programs, and advance the culinary strategy. The goals are to increase local food production, increase local food distribution and access to food, and invest in results-based partnerships and programming. What is needed now, beyond support for implementation of several projects, is a framework that supports the coordination for all of the community efforts and to access data to measure need and outcomes.