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Bloom Blog

Scientist to study pandemic's impact on racialized youth with disabilities

Photo by Samantha Polzin

By Louise Kinross

De-Lawrence Lamptey is Holland Bloorview's first Empowering Black Academics, Researchers and Knowledge Creators (EMBARK) scientist, with a three-year term beginning this September. 

"My EMBARK work will look at the experiences of racialized children and youth with disabilities in Canada during and post pandemic," says De-Lawrence, who has a PhD in Rehabilitation Science and has done post-doctoral work at Holland Bloorview, Mount Saint Vincent University, and York University. "I will look at experiences like food insecurity, health, access to community services and support, and coping and adapting strategies."

EMBARK addresses barriers Black scholars often face in advancing their childhood disability research beyond the post-doctoral level. As an EMBARK scientist, De-Lawrence will have access to start-up research funds, principal investigator status on studies, and advisor and career support. EMBARK is a partnership between the hospital's Bloorview Research Institute and the Black Research Network at the University of Toronto.

"We champion diverse voices in research because it leads to better science and treatment outcomes for our clients and their families," says Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, director of the Bloorview Research Institute.

De-Lawrence has right-sided weakness related to cerebral palsy and grew up in Ghana.

"The barriers I have faced are complex and can be emotionally tough for me to describe," De-Lawrence says. "It's not been easy as a Black researcher combined with having a disability, but I have learned to be emotionally strong, focus on the positives and see the light at the end of the tunnel."

De-Lawrence is currently completing a post-doctoral fellowship in the Critical Disability Program at York University's School of Health Policy & Management. He and his team have been studying food insecurity among children and youth in Canada before COVID-19.

"Our preliminary results on household food insecurity across Canada before COVID-19 show that racialized children and youth with disabilities were more vulnerable compared to non-racialized children and youth without disabilities," he says.

De-Lawrence plans to establish the Race, Ethnicity and Disability (READ) research lab to mobilize researchers, students and community partners to advance important research needed to inform policy and practice across Canada and internationally.

We interviewed De-Lawrence about how he got into the field in this candid 2019 piece

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