Thompson Rivers University

Faculty, students tackle community challenges

  Posted on: January 24, 2018

Natalie Clark, Associate Professor, Social Work.

When Natalie Clark was a Cariboo College student she volunteered on a local crisis line and calls the experience “some of the best training I’ve ever had.”

Today, the associate professor of social work says community-based research has become integral to her research program, and through her latest project she hopes to provide an opportunity for a student to gain exceptional training, while also assisting a community organization achieve its goals.

Working with the Kamloops Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC), Clark and her student research assistant will identify the best practices in volunteer-driven programs like the KSAC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Broadly, the goal is to document how volunteer grass-roots programs like this are successful in their work.

“We’ll be able to answer what it is about these programs that work, and why they are so essential,” Clark explains. “Programs can have their funding cut very quickly because they don’t have the research they need to secure permanent funds.”

In total, four TRU researchers are putting their expertise into practice, working to find solutions for challenges faced by community groups and organizations. The Community-Driven Research Fund (CDRF) supports opportunities that foster collaborations between researchers and community partners. The research projects are driven by the needs of the partner and provide opportunities for students to participate in community-based research.

> Read: Four new community research projects awarded funding, InsideTRU, Oct. 27, 2017 

The results of all of the projects funded by the CDRF will contribute to evidence-based decision making. Each project receives $2,500 from TRU, with matching contributions of up to $2,500 in cash or in-kind support from the partner.

Winter 2018 Community-Driven Research Fund projects:

  • Natalie Clark, Associate Professor, Social Work, in partnership with the Kamloops Sexual Assault Centre, for the project, “Sexual Assault Response Teams: Towards Wise Practices in Volunteer Sexual Assault Programs.”
    About the project: This research will address knowledge gap in the establishment of best practices for volunteer-driven sexual assault response teams, to ensure that programs like the KSAC program remain successful in their work.
  • Rebecca Sanford, Lecturer Social Work, in partnership with the Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association, for the project, “What is the effectiveness of an equine assisted program for first responders with exposure to trauma resulting from responding to drug overdoses?”
    About the program: The Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Association is interested in studying the effectiveness of an equine assisted program for first responders with exposure to trauma resulting in responding to drug overdoses. This is an effort for the KTRA to find new ways to respond to community needs, to promote wellness and reduce symptoms of trauma associated with the stressful work.
  • Edward Howe, Assistant Professor, Education, in partnership with Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music (KISSM), for the project, “Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music: What are the benefits?”
    About the project: This project aims to provide the data that helps to educate members of the community on the importance of fine arts education, with the hopes that this evidence will inspire the school district and the community to increase support for fine arts education.
  • Terry Kading, Professor, Political Science, in partnership with the City of Kamloops for the project, “Changes in the social planning landscape of BC since 2009.”
    About the project: This research will provide updates and changes on critical components of the 2009 Kamloops Social Plan, to inform the establishment of future social planning goals and municipal government policies on social and community development.