VANCOUVER, November 24, 2023 – The Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) is proud to announce the successful conclusion of its 13th Annual Conference, held from October 21 to 24, 2023, in Ottawa, Canada. This exceptional event brought together a diverse and passionate community of researchers, clinicians, parents, individuals with lived experience, family members and caregivers from across Canada. The common thread connecting them all: a shared commitment to improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities by bridging the gap between science and families.
With the theme “Celebrating 14 years of helping kids live their best lives,” this annual gathering was preceded by two days of professional development workshops and panel discussions organized by KBHN’s National Training Program that engaged more than 100 trainees and guest presenters.
This was followed by two conference days filled with thought-provoking lectures, transformative research insights, and valuable connections. The conference had close to 300 attendees from across Canada who participated in more than 30 sessions including oral talks, panel discussions and poster presentations. Highlights of the conference included the awarding of the prestigious Fraser Mustard lecture, to honour the life-long work of Dr. Peter Rosenbaum, MD, Professor of Paediatrics at McMaster University, and co-founder of CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research.
Dr. Rosenbaum’s lecture, titled “Childhood Disability in the 21st Century: Can We Create a Canadian Model for the World?” was a compelling exploration of the challenges and opportunities in addressing childhood disability on a national scale. The Fraser Mustard lecture has been a signature event at the KBHN’s annual conference since 2012.
Dr. Rosenbaum spoke about how KBHN was in the best position to advance care and services to children and families of those with chronic health conditions. “This is an opportunity to take, I hope, the next steps in the way KBHN have been doing for a couple of years – to create a national program of service for kids and families in a way that would be the envy of the world.”
“Our goal is to create a Canadian national childhood development program as the standard of the world for childhood disability,” Dr. Rosenbaum continued. “I don’t know any place that does this as well as it could be done and as well as we could do it. I think the time is ripe.”
Nicky Lewis, CEO of KBHN, said, “This is a special year for our national network. Our 13th Annual Conference is a celebration of our unwavering commitment to scale and spread the implementation of science that supports kids with neurodevelopment disabilities and their families. With researchers, families, individuals with lived experience, implementing partners, and professionals coming together, we’re turning the ongoing support of our partners into action and making a difference that truly matters.”
Dr. James Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer of KBHN, added, “Through science, passion, and the power of collaboration, we’re not just hosting a conference; we’re building a brighter future for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. With each research project, every dollar invested, and our ever-growing network of partners, we’re transforming lives and creating a world where children can truly live their best lives.”
Conference plenary speaker, healthcare activist, speaker, and author Sue Robins attended the conference with her son who has Down’s Syndrome and shared how families needed to bring the evidence in their advocacy. “We know from our family life that things are true because of our experiences and stories. But we are often asked to prove that they are true. And that’s where the researchers come in. In families’ everyday life, we have to bring the evidence,” Robins told the conference audience.
Canadian autistic artist and author-illustrator of children’s books, Ben LaChapelle, was a conference favourite. Ben’s paintings were presented to the conference plenary speakers and he also gave miniature clay moulded animals to many delegates. Ben’s multi-disciplinary work has been widely exhibited and commissioned by North American organizations.
The conference also provided travel awards to individuals with lived experience, caregivers, and siblings of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and research trainees, encouraging inclusivity and accessibility for all attendees.
Alzena Ilie, PhD student, Dalhousie University, who presented her research at the conference, said, “I had a wonderful time at the Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) 2023 Conference in Ottawa. I am feeling so grateful that I was able to attend so many inspiring and educational presentations, make new connections, and learn more about novel research in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. I presented my honours research and I want to thank KBHN for supporting our research, and for supporting my attendance at this conference.”
Insights emerging from the concurrent sessions sparked fervent discussions and engagement across social media platforms. Meanwhile, over 77 poster presentations garnered well-deserved engagement, interaction and recognition through different award categories. KBHN continues to lead the way in research that makes earlier diagnosis possible, new and effective treatments that work, and better ways to support children and their families.
And to move forward with this mission and further its government engagement efforts, KBHN also hosted a Parliament Hill reception on the sidelines of the conference. The Hill reception showcased the many programs and research projects to which KBHN is currently collaborating on and providing funding support.
For more information about the annual conference, please read more here https://kidsbrainhealth.ca/KBHNConf2023/.
About Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN)
KBHN is a national network that develops and harnesses scientific advances in technologies, interventions and supports with the goal of helping children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families live the best lives. The science of children’s brain health is making advancements and KBHN is bridging the gaps between these scientific advances and implementing solutions that directly address the needs of children and families. In delivering on its mission, KBHN is advancing federal responsibilities and priorities aimed at building a healthier future for all kids. More information is available at: https://kidsbrainhealth.ca/
For media queries, please contact:
Prachi Jatania, Communications Manager
Kids Brain Health Network