Accessible Child Development Resources through ÉducoFamille
Q&A’s with Audrey-Ann Deneault
What community/communities are you part of ?
I identify myself as Franco-Canadian. Although originally from Quebec, I have had the opportunity to live as a Francophone outside of Quebec in several Canadian provinces. In particular, I have taught psychology at the Université de Saint-Boniface, the Francophone university in Winnipeg. This experience was very enriching and allowed me to better understand the good aspects, but also the challenges of being a Francophone in a minority environment. Living my Francophonie outside of Quebec allowed me to identify different needs in my Francophone community. This is one of the reasons why I decided to create ÉducoFamille, since Francophone families in minority settings are particularly overlooked when it comes to French language resources for mental and physical health.
How did the idea for this project come to you?
I am a researcher in the field of child development. I am interested in knowing what makes a child or youth develop well socially, emotionally,and cognitively. I am also interested in identifying factors that may put children and youth at risk of developing, for example, psychological disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety) or behavioral disorders (e.g., aggression, hyperactivity). Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to participate in several studies that help identify factors that support or hinder children’s positive development. In particular, parents have a critical role to play in children’s development. However, during my research, I noticed that the important knowledge we were developing was not being shared with those who can benefit from it! The discoveries we were making were not accessible to parents and families since they are published in paid scientific journals. This lack of access was particularly noticeable for French-language resources, which were very limited. I therefore made it my mission to try to compensate for the lack of resources in French.
What was your motivation behind this project?
The motivation behind my project was to create science-based resources for families and parents. I wanted to create resources that were easily accessible, free, and easily applicable to everyday life. In addition, I wanted this resource to be a little broader than the few that were available. In fact, the resources already available were very focused on the 0–5-year-old period and on two-parent families in heterosexual relationships. So,I created the ÉducoFamille platform to address these limitations. In order to reach as wide an audience as possible, the platform includes a website where we publish blog posts as well as social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest where we publish summaries of the articles. In addition, we have partnerships with parent associations and health organizations across Canada. Our founding principles are as follows:
- Democratizing scientific knowledge about families in French
- Support families and parents with children of all ages
- Be useful to all family members (regardless of family configuration and gender)
- Be inclusive of diverse cultures and traditions.
To date, we have covered many interesting topics, such as the attachment relationship, the impact of technology on development, the importance of the co-parenting relationship, and much more!
How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?
We received a lot of positive feedback from parents and child development experts. Parents were happy to finally have their questions answered in a clear and accessible way. Specialists were happy to be able to share links with their clients knowing that the information presented on the site is rigorous.
In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?
The project has had a broader impact than I expected. We now have a team of seven volunteers helping to manage the platform and have received invited contributions from over 20 researchers across Canada. In doing so, we have managed to reach over 500,000 people in 2021 across the different parts of the platform. This is a huge impact, and we hope that ÉducoFamille has helped families and parents in Canada and around the world.
How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?
This project has opened the doors to partnerships across Canada. I’ve had the chance to give guest lectures to several organizations, and our articles have even been published in Nunavut’s French-language newspaper. It’s a great opportunity to work with the people on the ground. Thanks to these conferences, I have been able to talk with many parents and better understand their perspective, what worries them, the themes they would like to discuss. This is what inspires me to continue with the project!
Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?
There were definitely some adjustments to make along the way. For example, we’ve had to adjust our social media posts to make them complete and informative for those who won’t read the full blog post. Fortunately, I have a great team around me to help me figure out what adjustments to make!
What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
I would definitely encourage a young person to do a #RisingYouthproject. It isa great opportunity to try a new project and have a positive impact on your community. It is also a great way to identify issues that are important to us to continue to be involved in our community!