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Youth Advisory Committee

The Youth Advisory committee is advising the IECSS project researchers and partners in their research activities over the 7 year duration of the project. We are committed to engaging with children and young people who identify as disabled. In our research work we are interviewing adults about the processes that are required to access services for young people, we felt it was critical to have the perspective of young disabled people as we interpret our findings.

Our Youth Advisory committee was launched in October, 2018 at a Shaking the Movers/IECSS event, hosted at Carleton University by our partners at the Landon Pearson Centre. Materials developed for the event are available below.

Youth Advisory Committee

  • Zachary Abdalla
  • Bianca Batres
  • James Beatty
  • Lilyanne Bridge
  • Alex Bristow
  • Alyssa Burton 
  • Nathan Chaulk 
  • Kalea Davies
  • Nolan Dobbin
  • Gregory Doucet
  • Nicholas Hsu
  • Alex Krneta
  • Logan Lariviere
  • Fatima Nafisa
  • Munashe Z. Nyenya
  • Charlotte Peddle
  • Grace Sweetman
  • Shyla-Rae Tanner
  • Madison Warren 

The Research Matters... for Children website was developed alongside the IECSS Youth Advisory Committee. The interactive website shares research findings from the IECSS project, a longitudinal study of the experiences in early childhood services from the standpoint of disabled children and their families. The content is available in ASL, English, French, and LSQ. The content is also available in the form of a digital storybook. In addition to these pages, we worked with the Deaf Crows to create the Deaf to Deaf page. 

Click on the link to visit the Research Matters... for Children! website. 

Welcome and Keynote- Research Matters... for Children Website Launch

Research Matters... for Children Launch

Deaf to Deaf Website Launch

Webinar Closing- Research Matters... for Children Website Launch

To receive a copy of the Research Matters... for Children storybook, please contact, opens in new window

The Day of General Discussion (DGD) was initiated to create a space for in-depth discussions and to enhance understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UNCRC was developed in 1989 and to date it has been ratified by 196 countries.  The theme for the 81st session was children in alternative care. Several Articles from the UNCRC are relevant to the theme of children in alternative care. For example, Article 18 outlines the role of families in raising their children. In circumstances where parents cannot care for their child, it is the states responsibility to try to keep the child with extended family members and to prevent separation when unnecessary.  Beyond the UNCRC, Articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) must also be considered in discussions of children in alternative care. Article 23, for example, states that children should not be separated from their family because they are disabled. Rather, if alternative care is needed, all efforts should be made to provide this care within the family and community environment. PDF filePolicy brief 11, which was submitted to the DGD, raises important considerations and recommendations for alternative care for disabled children.

The DGD provides a space for the discussion of these rights, their implementation, and monitoring. There were multiple objectives for the 2021 DGD. One of the objectives was to begin developing guidelines for what constitutes quality alternative care. There was also a focus on learning about innovative approaches to alternative care and learning from current good practices for alternative care around the world. Discussions also brought up ways to support families and children when separation was deemed necessary. Presentations from youth, researchers, community members, and others were shared over two days with meaningful engagement between young people and adults.

Two youth from the IECSS youth advisory committee, Munashe N. Nyenya and Grace Sweetman, were chosen to be on the Children’s Advisory Team for the 2021 DGD. In total, 30 young people were selected to be a part of the advisory committees from 250 applicants. The IECSS project was the sponsoring organization for Munashe and Grace. Munashe and Grace were involved in planning meetings over two years alongside other youth around the world.

Grace presented, external link during the DGD opening on the PDF filereport, external link from consultations with children about alternative care. A PDF filechild-friendly version of the report has also been published with the results of the survey. Munashe co-chaired, external link a session titled: Access to justice and accountability for children and young people in alternative care, their families, and adults who grew up in care. A quote from Munashe’s speech was also featured in the August-September 2021 newsletter, external link from the Better Care Network., external link

Munashe: Children's Advisory Team (CAT) Report

Below is a report on everything I took part in on the Children's Advisory team.

Overall this experience really opened my eyes into children’s rights and has made me more interested in pursuing it further. The CAT adult advisors said that more projects will be coming so I look forward to doing more going forward.

Before we had our first meeting May 27th. 2020, I made an autobiography to introduce myself to the other members of the Children's advisory team. All of the other members had amazing biographies to share. I enjoyed reading them all.

On June 12th 2020  The Children’s Advisory team shared documents via email on what  the Day of General Discussion was and how it would work due to its postponement to September 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The first project I worked on with the CAT was the code of conduct. The 5 main ideas for the code of conduct were, being inclusively, patient, keeping a positive attitude within the team, creating a safe space, respect, and having fun. On August 21 we discussed the code of conduct as a group. I really felt involved in the making of the code of conduct. I  contributed to every main idea we set forward. 

On October 6 2020 we looked at our children safeguarding policy. I was asked to look for anything in the document I didn't understand. I found a few things and put them into child friendly terms. I  also got a consent form for my parents to fill out. 

A week later October 17-23 I took the CAT induction course. In the course I covered these three units: 

#1 - What is the UN? 

#2- What is our role in the Children's Advisory team 

#3 - What is alternative Care? 

I struggled reading some of the documents because of the poor colour contrast. I overcame that by reporting the problem to my youth advisors and through addressing that to my leaders, I found that my fellow members of the CAT struggled with the same problem.

In November, I filled out a form on what I wanted to be discussed for the DGD. I found the survey quite long and shared that feedback with my youth advisors.

In December, I chose to be part of the team that would later on review answers of the team’s CAT and Young people’s Advisory Team (YAT) questionnaires. I was part of the small group that reviewed the inputs. These answers were meant to help recruit researchers who did global consultation with children and care leavers. The CAT team also looked at the Day of General (DGD) concept notes and I got to add my input.

On December 17th 2020, the CAT had our final meeting of the year. We reflected on the progress we had made with our projects and what we were looking forward to in 2021.

On Jan 22 I got the opportunity to edit the CAT and YAT vision document for the DGD. 

On Feb 26 I joined the CAT and YAT research team. I got to learn the importance of research and I learned what key things to look for when doing research. 

On March 20 2021 I edited the rough draft questionnaire that CAT and YAT would send out to young people all around the world. That included adding more child friendly/easy to understand  language to the document. 

On April 15 I edited the CAT and YAT call for submission documents. I looked at the 10 questions and made them more relatable (easier to understand) for younger demographics  

On May 4th, the CAT research team had a meeting on how children who took the questionnaire  were responding. Around this time I got an idea of what the formal meeting would look like and an overview of what to expect on the Day of General Discussions.

On June 7 we were introduced to Amy, our new youth adult advisor. She was there to help us prepare for the Day of General discussion

On July 9 we got the final results of our youth and young people in an alternative care survey. The survey had over 1000 responses, one of my many highlights as part of the Children’s advisory team. The answers really gave us insights on what the main problems in children’s care around the world are and what needs to be changed.

On the 14 of July I decided on the roles I wanted for the Day of General Discussion. I was really satisfied with the role I chose. Working group 3 talked about access to justice and accountability in alternative care. I also chose to present the findings of the Children and Young people survey.

On August 19 we had a meeting on the allocation of our roles, ironing out who gets which roles. There was an initial confusion because  Grace and I wanted the same roles; it was eventually solved with me choosing the role more suited for my time Working group 3.

In the first week of September I had my preparation meeting on my DGD speech. I learnt a lot.  I got to work on my speech for the Day of General Discussion and practice it with others and ask for feedback.

On the day of the DGD I really enjoyed being part of this amazing day. I really appreciated the effort everyone put into the project. I learned so much. I am eternally grateful to this opportunity. I enjoyed every minute of it.



Additional information and videos from the DGD sessions can be found here, external link, external link, external link

IECSS/Shaking the Movers Workshop Report


Xu, F. (2018). Shaking the Movers. [Video File]. Ottawa, ON.