OKN’s Indigenous Reconciliation initiative considers Truth and Reconciliation as two distinct entities, as illustrated above. Learn more about this graphic in our Indigenous Reconciliation Strategy.

Children spend a great deal of their first 8 years learning in schools, thus, how schools connect to their community is important. Progress in this area will show good connections between schools, parents, community resources and the local neighbourhood.

  • Parental involvement in schools
  • Youth as resources
  • Volunteerism
  • Community use of schools
Children thrive in neighbourhoods that are safe and connected. Neighbourhoods that can meet all of our needs are valued.

  • Neighbourhood safety
  • Neighbourhood cohesion
  • Walkability
  • Caring for the community
Safe environments benefit children by providing a sense of personal security that allows them to take maximum advantage of learning, playing and making new friendships.

  • Child care capacity
  • Quality child care
  • Parenting capacity
  • Parental monitoring
  • Quality time at home with family
Safe environments benefit children by providing a sense of personal security that allows them to take maximum advantage of learning, playing and making new friendships.

  • Serious injury
  • At-risk behaviours
  • Safety from harm
All children need positive connections to their parents/caregivers, peers, school and community.

  • Supportive and caring environments
  • Boundaries and expectations
  • Commitment to learning
  • Positive values
  • Social competencies

Learning is one of the cornerstones for success in life and starts at birth. Community progress for this result will show that children are learning both in their preschool and school years.

  • Preschool learning opportunities
  • Student achievement (EQAO)
  • Healthy body weight
  • School engagement

Good health is a prerequisite for positive outcomes for children and youth. Both physical and emotional health are valued in this result. In addition, given the critical brain development that takes place in the first 12 months of life, infant health is closely monitored.

  • At-risk births
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy body weight
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health

Mental Health Knowledge Exchange Conference


Our Kids Network (OKN) is pleased to invite you to its Fall Knowledge Exchange Conference on the theme of mental health. The Conference will feature an exciting lineup of presentations, and opportunities to network with partners and explore ideas for moving research into action.

Child and youth mental health is a critical issue affecting individuals, families, and our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, leading to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues among young people. This event will explore research on mental health, and how we can work together to advance positive mental health and empower individuals and communities to thrive.


The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Amanda Sim, Assistant Professor at McMaster University. Dr. Sim will share research exploring the mental health of refugee families in Hamilton using arts-based research methods.

The event will feature presentations on the mental health and wellbeing of Halton families. Presentations include:

  • Monitoring the incidental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in Halton, Regional Municipality of Halton, Public Health
  • Looking ahead: The Implementation of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, ROCK Reach Out Centre for Kids
  • Are Opportunities to Play Important to the Wellbeing of Youth? Canadian Index of Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo
  • Youth Wellbeing & Access to Recreation, Our Kids Network

Keynote Speaker:

Dr Amanda Sim is Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. Her work focuses on understanding and addressing factors that influence the mental health and well-being of children and families affected by war, forced migration, and other forms of global adversity. She uses community-based participatory research methods to develop and test interventions aimed at breaking cycles of adversity and promoting the resilience of newcomer and other underserved families in Canada and around the world. Amanda obtained a doctoral degree from the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford where she conducted research on the intergenerational impacts of war and displacement among Syrian refugees and completed post-doctoral training at The Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University. Before moving to Hamilton, she lived and worked extensively throughout Asia and Africa, including in Afghanistan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Thailand, and Lebanon.

Description of research:
Canada’s population is becoming increasingly diverse with over 1.3 million new immigrants settling in Canada from 2016 to 2021. However, we know little about the mental health needs of refugees and immigrants settling in our community and why there remain persistent gaps in access to mental health and well-being supports. Our research project, Thriving Together, engaged newcomer families and service providers to gain a better understanding of the challenges experienced by newcomers to Canada, impacts on their mental health and well-being, and barriers to accessing supports. The presentation will provide an overview of what we learned, reflections on conducting research with newcomer communities, and showcase creative arts-based approaches to community engagement and knowledge sharing.


People with different skills connecting together online and working on the same project, remote working and freelancing concept
OKN organization graphic