Nursing students’ initiative supports parents on campus

The Child Friendly Campus Initiative aims to make parenting easier for students

Lorne Beswick, VP Campaigns and Community Affairs for the SGPS, in one of the Parenting Rooms on campus with his daughter.

Over the course of two years, Queen’s University Child Friendly Campus has expanded their three breastfeeding rooms on campus into a broader initiative to make Queen’s a parent-friendly enivronment.

This past January, Alina Leffler, Laura Kuikman and Andrew Ma, NSc ’17 from the Faculty of Nursing ran the Queen’s University Child Friendly Campus (QUCFC) Initiative — a student-led project driven by a practicum course (N405) that aims to support parents with children on campus. 

Started in 2016 by Kyrinne Lockhart and Rachel Hannigan, NSc ‘16, this initiative created three breastfeeding rooms on campus. The rooms are located in Ban Righ, the School of Nursing building and the Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) Family Room in the JDUC. 

This year, the three students expanded on the efforts of their predecessors by increasing the accessibility and quality of resources for parents on campus. 

To do this, the trio walked around campus and took note of washrooms with change tables in them. These locations, along with the new breastfeeding rooms, are marked on a map specifically targeted to parents on campus. This information and additional resources are hosted on a website they’ve launched. 

According to Kuikman, “Parents on campus are currently invisible. There’s no entity that identifies them, so there was no actual way for us to get a number of how many parents there really were on campus, and what were their needs.” 

With this lack of information, a priority for the initiative was to send out a survey in order to receive tangible and applicable information.

Sent out in June 2017 to parents on campus – the results will identify key areas of focus for the initiative going forward. Prominent concerns include a lack of accessible childcare, access to parking, and baby change tables.

Kuikman credits Queen’s Nursing professors Katie Goldie and Alicia Papanicolaou as being the backbone of the initiative. In the inaugural year of QUCFC, the two were the supervisors over the breastfeeding room project and this year supervised Leffler, Kuikman and Ma as they launched the initiative. 

“They want to continue [the intiative] on, and keep bringing students on who will be committed to this initiative,” Kuikman said. “They’ve given students the freedom to take the lead on these initiatives, but without their commitment to back it, none of this would have been possible at all.” 

Professor Goldie told The Journal via email that both she and Professor Papanicolaou struggled to balance a campus life while raising children and became increasingly aware of the university’s lack of services for parents. They’d also encountered students who had faced many challenges due to a lack of support for on-campus parents. 

“We witnessed delicate newborn babies having their diapers changed on dirty bathroom floors (within radius of a door opening and hitting them) and in stairwells, parents breastfeeding and pumping milk in toilet stalls, students expressing their distress about delaying or discontinuing their studies (and breastfeeding),” Goldie wrote.

Goldie had recommendations for what can be done to further support parents, including lactation accommodation, incorporating ‘parenting spaces’ in new campus buildings and inviting parents with children to identify themselves and voice their needs. 

Parents can also visit the QUCFC website for information, and fill out their survey to provide valuable information to the project.

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