Research for youth, by youth

12 February 2014

UPDATE: The KidsCan project was featured on GlobalBC news on Friday, Feb 28. Watch the interview with the students here: http://globalnews.ca/video/1180764/kids-fight-obesity-with-exercise-app

This story originally appeared on the Child & Family Research Institute website and is re-printed here by kind permission.

An enthusiastic group of high school students is playing a major role in the development of a mobile phone-based game to increase physical activity among kids and teens.

MobileKids is the first showcase project for KidsCan, an initiative led by scientists at the Child & Family Research Institute that aims to tackle childhood obesity and the limited involvement of children in research. KidsCan is funded by the Peter Wall Solutions Initiative and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Through KidsCan, young people are engaged in research not only as clinical subjects but also as partners in the development of research projects relevant to their age group.

“I’ve always been interested in research studies,” says Alex, a KidsCan advisor. “Having the opportunity to be in a group that helps make decisions for a study that influences my demographic is the best kind of experience.”

The KidsCan advisory group is made up of 16 students between the ages of 14 and 17 who live in Vancouver, Richmond, and Coquitlam. They meet regularly in person or provide feedback online and aid in recruitment.

“I’ve always been interested in research studies. Having the opportunity to be in a group that helps make decisions for a study that influences my demographic is the best kind of experience.”
— Alex, KidsCan advisor

“The KidsCan group was instrumental in the design and testing of the MobileKids game. With their advice and feedback, we felt confident that the game would be well received.” says Dr. Guy Dumont, KidsCan lead and Principal Investigator for MobileKids. Dr. Dumont is a CFRI Scientist and co-director of Electical & Computer Engineering in Medicine at UBC.

“Through KidsCan we hope to influence how pediatric research is conducted and show the benefits of engaging young people,” says Dr. Dumont. “It’s also a way to get children and teens in B.C. excited and involved in science, technology and research.”

The KidsCan group recently released a short video on YouTube demonstrating their excitement for the project.

The MobileKids study has paired a smartphone game, Monster Manor, with an activity sensor called Tractivity. The more kids are active, the more points they collect, and the more they can play.

As Dr. Dumont told Postmedia News in December, it’s the first game to use physical activity as currency.

Monster Manor was developed by Ayogo, a local software development company. Tractivity was developed by Vancouver-based Kineteks.

 

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