by Anneliese Poetz, KT Manager, NeuroDevNet
Day on the Hill is an annual event where NeuroDevNet researchers, collaborators and partners visit with MPs and Senators on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The conversations that we had during these visits provided insights that can be used to inform NeuroDevNet’s current and future work.
This past October 7, 2014 I had the pleasure of travelling to Ottawa, ON to participate in NeuroDevNet’s “Day on the Hill” event. It was not the first, in fact, this was NeuroDevNet’s 4th…but it was my first time attending. I had heard people talk about it but I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was eager to find out. This Day on the Hill also followed the inaugural meeting of NeuroDevNet’s Community for Brain Development. These two consecutive events meant that we had representation from like-minded individuals from organizations across Canada united by our concern with children’s brain development.
Anthony Santelices, project officer, was the mastermind behind the planning and coordination of the day. Prior to the event, we were provided with an information package about what our ‘ask’ was.
In the information package it also told us what team we were on – we were split into teams of 4-5 people. All of our meetings had been pre-arranged, and we were provided with the names of the MPs and Senators we were meeting with that day, the time(s) and location(s). I was on “Team #5” and I was lucky to have such great team mates as: Stephanie Jull (Canucks Autism Network), Amy Salmon (CanFASD) and Doug Maynard (CAPHC). We had only just met the day before, but we had such great synergy among us that some of the MPs thought that we’d known each other for a long time! Our team ‘quarterback’ was Doug Maynard, and he helped us navigate around the Hill to find our meeting locations with grace.
While we came with a unified message, it was equally important to listen. Each MP had someone who they cared about who was affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder. Everyone we met with was down-to-earth and really cared about making things better for Canadians with NDDs.
I made notes on their concerns such as: cost-effectiveness of interventions, support for transition of youth with NDDs into adulthood, and the importance of input from (and support for) families of children with NDDs.
These were important insights for KT for several reasons:
- It validated the importance of placing a focus on health economic evaluation of NeuroDevNet’s diagnosis and intervention innovations for uptake into decision-making.
- The Community for Brain Development meeting also identified “transitions” as an important consideration for children with NDDs. Transition periods include: kindergarten to grade 1, grade 8 to high school, and high school into adulthood.
- NeuroDevNet recognizes the importance of engaging with families to inform research, policies and programs.
NeuroDevNet has successfully engaged with policymakers and practitioners over NeuroDevNet’s first 5 years and is committed to continuing these activities for similar KT events such as stakeholder consultations and conferences.
If you are a NeuroDevNet researcher or trainee and are planning a conference, stakeholder consultation, or other KT event or if you would like to explore ways you can involve your stakeholders in your research, contact the KT Core to see how we can help.