2016 Wall Solutions Initiative Awards

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Congratulations to the awardees of the Peter Wall Institute's 2016 Wall Solutions Initiative. The Institute approved three new projects and renewed seven awards for one year. 

This program supports UBC faculty members working in collaboration with a community or partner organization to address issues of societal importance through innovative, interdisciplinary and academically rigorous research projects. The goal is to develop and demonstrate innovative research solutions that can be adopted by the end-users or target communities. 

New Awards

Dr. Tal Jarus, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, UBC; Mr. Sean Sibbet, Reality Controls; Dr. J. Zwicker, Dr. N. Lanphear and Ms. L. Roxborough, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, BC Children’s Hospital

What’s Up? Fostering communication skills for children with autism using a virtual reality game

Children with autism have difficulties with communication and socio-emotional skills, and current behavioral interventions addressing this problem are costly. Complex problems require creative solutions—an innovative and promising virtual-reality platform that can be used to complement health services. Existing technologies such as computer-based programs are usually touch-based, and raise a long debate on the generalization of learned skills. Touch-less systems enable interacting via natural ways in a simulated environment and may help develop transferable skills. This project will develop a low-cost, novel touch-less virtual-reality technology (using the Kinect), via simulation of the real world, to improve socio-emotional skills among children with autism. To maximize the quality of the product, partnership between the clinical community, a virtual-reality gaming company, and the academic researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is crucial. Stakeholders’ input will be incorporated, and the developed product will be used at home and monitored by clinicians remotely.

The Institute values its partnership with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) for a supplemental funding opportunity for health-related Wall Solutions proposals. MSFHR funding supports the hiring of a knowledge translation broker to evaluate the implementation of their solutions. We are pleased to announce that this project will receive supplemental funding from MSFHR.


Dr. Erin Baines, Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC; Ms. Beini Ye, REDRESS, UK; Ms. Evelyn Amony, WAN Uganda

Reparations for war-time sexual violence in northern Uganda

Human rights reports have documented an increase in the rates of mass rape, abduction and forced marriage of girls and women by armed groups in wartime globally. UN Resolution 2106 (July 2013) condemns such violations, and UN Resolution 2122 (October 2013) insists on women’s active participation in prevention and response. In northern Uganda, thousands of girls and women who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) between 1987 and 2006 have since returned to their communities where they live in extreme poverty, have little to no access to justice and face social stigma. Often communities reject survivors and their children. This project will work in close collaboration with REDRESS and the Women’s Advocacy Network (WAN) – a network of 900 survivors in northern Uganda – to explore the possibilities of reparations for survivors and their children.


Prof. Peter Klein, School of Journalism, UBC; Mr. W. Greenland, A New Day Men’s Healing Program; Tree of Peace Friendship Centre

Alcoholics Unanonymous

Alcohol Dependence is a crowd-sourced digital portal for individuals coping with alcohol dependence. Through a mobile and desktop platform, people from Indigenous communities across the Canadian Arctic can connect, share their experiences, and tap into storytelling traditions that have been used to connect and heal people for centuries. Ultimately, Indigenous Peoples in remote communities across the Arctic, who have been disenfranchised and without adequate resources to address alcohol dependence, will now have voices and access to a shared community that they can turn to for support when facing challenges, for encouragement towards positive change, and for reassurance that they are not alone in their experiences. The project is led by UBC faculty Prof. Peter Klein and Dr. John Oliffe in collaboration with William Greenland, an Indigenous counsellor from the Gwich’in First Nation.

Renewed Wall Solutions projects

  • Peer engagement in harm reduction: development, implementation and evaluation of best practice guidelines for British Columbia
  • Translating community-based HIV research into culturally appropriate action with Aboriginal people who use illicit drugs and/or illicit alcohol in Vancouver, BC
  • Edible, poisonous or ecologically vital-DNA sequence database to characterize BC fungi important for human and environmental health
  • Supporting the Achievement of Health Goals with Formerly Incarcerated Men
  • Evaluating the impact of alternative income assistance timing on drug-related harm
  • Monitoring an devaluation of adoption and use of LPG for cooking in rural Gujarat

See all our Wall Solutions awardees.