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The Mobility Project Blog 

I’m a health advocate, researcher, educator and social observer. I think some of the most important secrets and lessons in life can be found in the small spaces — the spaces between spaces and the everyday public places where we live, work and play. So I pay attention, listen, and watch these spaces… and it rocks my world every day!


The Mobility Project is about movement – about people getting where they want to go and how they got there. It’s about engaging people and sparking a dialogue about bodies & barriers, resilience & resistance, passion & determination, creativity & courage, stigma & disability. Join me for the ride!

MAPx (Mobility Aid Personalization) Project

This project explores the process of mobility aid personalization and how it impacts the health and well-being of older adults. Since the non-use of mobility aids among the older adult population is a significant problem with serious adverse effects, research to understand why some use and others refuse their mobility devices is needed. 


The project revealed two key findings:

  1. Older adults personalize their mobility devices for reasons of function (physical context) and fashion (aesthetics and personal preferences). It also included the performance and preservation of identity (ethnicity, profession).

  2. The impact of selecting or modifying a mobility device to suit individual needs and preferences facilitated device-acceptance, promoted physical and social participation, and provided a 'place' to perform and preserve identity among participants.

"I Like Your Ride!"

This ongoing project is a fun way to conduct some mobility aid personalization research as I go about my life. I'm fascinated by the ways in which people "pimp their rides" and why they do it. Anytime I see someone has personalized their "ride" I interview them for their story to see why they do it and open with, "I like your ride!" to break the ice and get the conversation going. About 9 out of 10 times people are willing to share their stories with me, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to record the interview!

I've come across some really cool rides (and people) through this project. Take a look on the Mobility Project Blog to see the amazing things I've encountered!

Mobility Games

Mobility Games is a multi-project endeavour dedicated to crafting and exploring multiplayer, mixed reality entertainment for people who use mobility devices. As a member of the project team, Paula Gardner acts as a researcher, bringing her expertise in participatory, community-based and critical qualitative methodologies with an emphasis on mobility device use and active transportation for seniors and people with disabilities.


The area of entertainment for mobility device users has received little attention from the gaming industry and service providers. We are interested in designing and researching multiplayer interactive and mixed reality games and applications for mobility device users and their friends and families. We seek to advance our understanding of mobility users’ device use for entertainment, social play and personal well-being. As a lab that specializes in accessible technology and media, our approach is inclusive, participatory, user-centric and mixed methods-focused.


Learn more about the project here.

The Mindfulness Project

The following two videos were created for the Brock Mental Health and Wellness website. In the first video, I talk about how approaching mental health through mindfulness is a great strategy because of its therapeutic value. Helping students build effective coping and resilience strategies is more important than ever when a vast majority of university students feel overwhelmed. I have been known to include mindfulness in my classrooms, and this is why I do it. 


Mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn 2003, p.144). Meditation – a practice that uses the breath to bring us into awareness and calm the mind - is one of the most basic mindfulness practices.


Emerging research illustrates the benefits of integrating mindfulness and meditation into teaching practice. Recent studies demonstrate, for example, that these contemplative practices can result in greater psychological well-being for students, a greater degree of concentration, reduced class disruptions, and improved academic performance (Bush, 2011; Shapiro, Brown, & Astin, 2008).


For the past 8 years (while teaching at the City University of New York, the University of Toronto and now at Brock University) I have used meditation as a tool for teaching and observed similar benefit. The practice of beginning each class (undergrad and graduate) with a short meditation seems to focus students (and myself) as we often arrive to class feeling rushed and scattered. Additionally I’ve noticed that this practice helps to create a positive – more open and trusting – learning environment.


Student’s course evaluations in the past support these observations as many mention the inclass meditation as a valuable experience and a part of the course they not only enjoyed, but felt positively impacted their learning and enhanced the course overall.


While interest in the integration of mindfulness practices into higher education is emerging, to date much of the research and practice is focused at the K-12 level. As such we know much less about how best to integrate meditation into post-secondary classrooms and curriculum, and the impact of doing so.



The overall purpose of The Mindfulness Experiment is to explore mindfulness practices in postsecondary education. There are two key research objectives:


  1. To identify ‘best practices’ / effective strategies for integrating meditation within a university classroom and curriculum

  2. To examine the impact of doing so

Paula's project, A Focus on Faculty: Building a Contemplative Campus One Classroom at a Time is aimed at understanding the challenges of integrating mindfulness into post-secondary classrooms. Read more in this article written by Colleen Patterson for The Brock News, here.

Design and Health

CARE Planning Guide

CARE is an applied research and evaluation consulting firm that specializes in assessing how architecture and the built environment affect behaviour, well-being and health. 


This planning guide is your toolkit. It will help you lay the foundation for a successful POE that will assess the impact of the design of your healthcare facility on patient, staff and visitor psychosocial well-being, as well as behavioural and health related outcomes. This guide will be your first steps in understanding how patients feel when they are in various spaces throughout the healthcare facility, what they do in those spaces and how often they frequent these spaces. 


Your role is to use this guide to gather all of the required information that your evaluation team has identified as being a priority as they will need it to begin the next stages of the process that will include developing a POE framework and the data collection materials – surveys, interview guides and observations tools.

This workbook includes exercises that will help you understand the steps in the POE processes, outline the type of care that is delivered at your healthcare facility, explain the redevelopment project and the associated timelines, document the design intentions, identify the roles and responsibilities for key individuals, prioritize the spaces in the redevelopment project that require the most attention and plan various communications strategies.

That's Wheelie Gross!

Wheelchair sightings are not uncommon in healthcare institutions. A study conducted by Bridgepoint's Collaboratory for Research and Innovation published in the American Journal of Infection Control revealed there are no clear guidelines for cleaning these complex pieces of equipment. 


I, along with a team of researchers, interviewed respondents from 48 healthcare facilities across Canada and discovered that many respondents were concerned about wheelchair cleaning as an infection control issue.

The Wedgie

People call me a "walker stalker" because I follow people. I'm really interested in what happens to people in mobility devices once they leave the hospital and go back into their community. What kind of challenges do they face? What are their experiences?

Small ledges can stop people from getting back to their lives or having meaningful social relationships because of these barriers, so I've come together with a team of engineers and this is what we did.


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