Dr. Nicole Yantzi
Associate Professor (LTA)
Geography, Geomatics and Environment
Nicole holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and Computer Studies from Trent University. She completed her graduate training at Queen’s University, receiving a Master of Arts in Geography in 1998 and a PhD in Geography in 2005. Nicole completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children. She was previously a Professor in the School of the Environment at Laurentian University and the director of the Evaluating Children’s Health Outcomes Research Centre.
Nicole is an expert in children’s health and the built environment, having spent the last 15 years researching and advocating for play spaces that are inclusive for all children. She uses child-friendly methods in her research and advocates for the inclusion of all children and youth as active research participants with experiences, viewpoints, and ideas for change. Her key competencies include community-based research in children’s health and the built environment, accessible and inclusive environments for all, qualitative methods and research, interdisciplinary teaching and research, research ethics, using diverse strategies for student engagement, facilitation of student participation and discussions, and teaching and practicing research skills.
In 2005, Nicole had the opportunity to take staff from the City of Greater Sudbury on a playground tour, where she showcased and explained the differences between an accessible playground and an inclusive play space. She emphasized the importance of not just providing children with access, but with a rich play experience. She also explained that these play spaces are not just for children with disabilities, but also their friends and family who have disabilities and wish to participate. Given the absence of inclusive play spaces in Sudbury at this time, Nicole worked with recreation staff and the Accessibility Advisory Committee to develop several play spaces accessible to children with disabilities in the region. Nicole has been asked to present and publish about her involvement with this process, including a presentation to city council and an article co-authored by the then deputy mayor and councillor of the ward for the neighbourhood.
As a person with a mobility disability, who uses mobility aids, Nicole often struggles to find outdoor leisure opportunities. In participating in an adapted rowing program at the Northern Water Sport Centre in Sudbury, which is an accessible indoor and outdoor space, Nicole witnessed the positive outcome of having this type of space in a community.
Most of Nicole’s research has been completed in collaboration with community partners such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Ridgecrest Accessible Neighbourhood Association, the Health Kids Community Challenge Policy and Advisory Committee, and Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Her work has been published in several international journals including Children’s Geographies and Children, Youth and Environments. She recently published an invited book chapter titled Including children in health geography, in V. Crooks, G. Andrews, and Pearce, J. (eds) Routledge Handbook of Health Geography.