Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

What people with disabilities have to say about inclusive communities: StFX student presents research in Washington 

April 11th, 2023
Callie Scott

Researching what people with disabilities have to say about inclusive communities was a big part of Callie Scott’s final year at StFX.

And it was particularly impactful when Ms. Scott of Carp, ON, who was supervised by StFX human kinetics professor Dr. Amanda Casey, recently presented her honours undergraduate research at the Active Living Conference at the National Institute of Health in Washington DC, the only participant presenting undergraduate research. 

“I felt honoured to be presenting,” says Ms. Scott, who is currently starting the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Bond University on the Gold Coast in Australia as she works to become a registered physiotherapist with hopes to specialize in sports physiotherapy and dance rehab.

“I learned so much from the workshops and presentations. It was an honour to meet and listen to the other presenters and researchers. I got to meet and talk to Dr. James Sallis, whose research I read throughout my undergrad and cited many times, which was an honour and really cool! What I specifically liked about this conference was that it was interdisciplinary, lots of practitioners and those directly involved in community initiatives were there.”

As one of the youngest participants, she says she was nervous, but everyone was welcoming. “I was so happy the presentation got great reviews, especially for our knowledge translation piece and how we were implementing the research into the community by reaching out to stakeholders in the community.”

Her undergraduate research project used photovoice to capture photos and comments from the lived experiences of experts with disabilities and their perceived barriers and facilitators to accessibility in the Town of Antigonish. She says through data collection and analysis five main themes of inclusive communities were found: active mobility, feelings of safety, sense of place, wayfinding and beautification. (To learn more about the project and its findings please follow the LINK.) 

“Our biggest goal of this research was for the insights and suggestions of the experts with disabilities to be heard, listened to, and implemented into the community. We are happy to share that some of the photos and comments were incorporated in the Draft Accessibility Plan for Antigonish 2023!

“I would like to thank everyone at CACL, PEACH Research Unit at Dalhousie, Dr. Mikiko Terashima at the Dalhousie School of Planning, reachAbility Association in Halifax, Juniper Littlefield from Upland Planning + Design Studio, the Antigonish accessibility committee and Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher for making this research possible.” 


StFX, she says, has allowed her to explore many different fields of study, work in the wonderful community and learn practical skills. “I think the people and community is what will leave the greatest impact on me. I met some amazing people at X that helped me grow, especially Dr. Amanda Casey who was such an amazing mentor and supervisor. She really took me under her wing as she taught me so much and gave me confidence in my academic abilities.” 

Ms. Scott graduated with a BSc in human kinetics in 2021 and returned to StFX the following year to complete an honours BA in human kinetics. 

Ms. Scott says Dr. Casey introduced her to the project as she knew she was interested in this field of research and that she wanted to come back to StFX for a second degree to gain more research experience.

Ms. Scott says she was drawn to this field particularly active transport, universal design and accessibility in Dr. Casey’s class, HKIN 457: Designing Interventions. “I’ve had a passion for promoting physical activity, and through this class we discussed that although active transport and physical activity are not only vital for individual health but for population health, unfortunately not everyone has equal opportunity to participate in them. We discussed how to design interventions to promote physical activity for people with disabilities, which I became very interested in and motivated me to take more of Dr. Amanda Casey’s classes.”

Ms. Scott, who was a member of the StFX Dance Team during her undergraduate years, says along with wanting to become a physiotherapist, she hopes she can continue down the research route. 

“My minor was earth science, so I have always been interested in environmental health, human health, and climate change so maybe doing some research in that field at some point. I loved my honours thesis experience…maybe do a PhD afterwards.”



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