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Ms Nea Vänskä

Nea Vanska


Nea Vänskä (Doctoral Researcher, MSc, Physiotherapist), senior lecturer and project manager at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland. She has led and engaged in projects focusing on co-developing participation approaches and solutions. Her specific interest is promoting children’s right to participation and building meaningful collaboration in research and practice.

Session Theme: Co-producing participation approaches and solutions for equity

Partnership between children, family members and professionals is crucial in rehabilitation practice and research when aiming to improve the participation and wellbeing of children and youth with disabilities in their everyday life. In the presentation titled "Co-creating Participation," I will delve into the elements within rehabilitation that foster participation and collaboration, recognizing the child as an active agent. This presentation will contain concrete examples of participation-based practices and evidence-driven tools that have been developed in collaboration with children, parents and professionals. Additionally, it will introduce a practical model for implementing partnership throughout every stage of the rehabilitation research process. The Participatory Research Partnership model enables equal and reciprocal participation emphasizing a research process based on meaningful collaboration and co-learning through interaction.

Why is the topic of participation important to you?

I am eager to explore how can we promote the participation of children and young people with disabilities in meaningful activities in their daily lives, as well as how collaborative efforts in rehabilitation can be constructed in the best interest of the child. I believe that the best practices are developed in partnership, where children and youth and their family members and experts collaboratively explore and develop matters together. In rehabilitation, a child's participation can be viewed as a goal, a means, but also as the child's right. It is the responsibility of professionals and parents to ensure the realization of child’s participation rights and agency in rehabilitation. To achieve this, there is a need to strengthen collaboration both in practice and in research. In partnership-based research, the identification of meaningful research topics and addressing practical needs becomes achievable, and we can co-create new knowledge and applicable tools for everyday life needs. Together we have a better possibility for creating a good future for all.

Tell us a little bit about what you personally like to participate in!

Naturally, I am curious and enthusiastic about trying and learning new things. A few years ago, I delved into mountain biking, discovering joy in the experience despite the occasional bruises. What I value most about engaging in such activities is the companionship with friends and family, the sense of belonging, and the collective joy of shared experiences. Furthermore, participating in collaborative initiatives brings me joy as we work together to advance meaningful causes and have the opportunity to make positive changes for the well-being of children and youth.

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