Project Description

Family Picture


SPRINT is a research–practice project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to create and implement a developmentally and culturally sensitive community-based intervention approach tailored to the unique strengths and needs of Syrian and Middle Eastern refugee and migrant communities. It is a multi-site project carried out in Hamilton and the GTA, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta. The three stages of SPRINT are:

1) a needs assessment to learn about the strengths and needs of refugee and migrant families and practitioners working with such families, and to identify opportunities to build on refugee and migrant children’s and families’ strengths to support their resettlement in Canada,

2) the implementation of an intervention approach adapted to the refugee and migrant community’s strengths and needs in order to support caregivers’ and practitioners’ capacities to promote refugee and migrant children’s wellbeing, social-emotional development, and flourishing, and

3) a knowledge translation approach that shares every stage of the project’s findings via scientific and policy publications, accessible infographics, and social media to maximize reach to the refugee community, service sectors, academia, and policy branches.


The Syrian and Middle Eastern refugee and migrant population is considered one of Canada’s vulnerable communities in terms of health needs, necessitating specific support both during and beyond their resettlement. On the one hand, pre-migratory adversities, such as exposure to violence during war, living in refugee camps, and the loss of loved ones, are traumatic experiences and can have adverse impacts on child development and the mental health of both children and caregivers. On the other hand, post-migratory stressors, such as language barriers and financial constraints, can be challenging for refugee and migrant families and may impede their successful integration and acculturation during resettlement in Canada. Therefore, this project aims to mitigate the effects of trauma on child development and mental health by providing specific, nurturing care and information for refugee and migrant children and caregivers, practitioners, community leaders, and the general public.


For the needs assessment, we focused on Syrian and Middle Eastern refugee and migrant caregivers, as well as practitioners who serve refugee families in Hamilton, the GTA, and Calgary. For the training in the same regions, refugee and migrant caregivers of children aged 2–12 years and practitioners and community leaders who serve refugee and participating families are invited to participate.


The needs assessment involved virtual interviews that were conducted one-on-one by a trained facilitator from our SPRINT team. Caregivers and practitioners who participated in our needs assessment answered questions about the strengths and developmental, mental health, and service needs of the refugee community. Language adaptation was considered for Arabic-speaking caregivers. For caregivers and practitioners, the community-based intervention approach of SPRINT will be delivered online in both English and Arabic with a hybrid model of virtual self-paced training and virtual group sessions facilitated by an expert from our team. The training will be delivered with an online learning management system (LMS). Finally, a public awareness and educational campaign will be implemented through sharing the results and lessons learned of our needs assessment and training as accessible social media and media content, policy reports, scientific publications, and academic and community presentations.


This project provides direct support to refugee and migrant families, practitioners, as well as policy makers and the general public in Canada by 1) increasing our understanding of refugee  and migrant children’s and families’ current strengths and needs, 2) Leveraging this knowledge to implement a community-based, multilayer intervention approach that is tailored to the developmental, cultural, and social needs of this community, 3) providing caregivers and practitioners with the skills needed to address every child’s needs in this community, and 4) sharing project findings with the refugee community, practitioners, the general public, and policy makers to raise awareness of the strengths and needs of refugee and migrant children and families in Canada, as well as how to promote their wellbeing, development, and flourishing. This project also provides a unique opportunity to improve communication and collaboration among refugee and migrant families and research, practice, and policy stakeholders. Ultimately this project is poised to inform the large-scale rollout of community-based interventions and public health initiatives for refugee and migrant populations.



Tina Malti

Dr. Tina Malti, Principal Investigator

Tina Malti is a professor of psychology and founding director of the Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention (SEDI) at the University of Toronto Mississauga. In July 2019, Tina created and became the founding director of the Centre for Child Development, Mental Health, and Policy (CCDMP) at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The vision of her work is to foster every child’s healthy development and potential for kindness, both locally and globally.

  Click here to learn more about Dr. Malti and her work.


Redab Al-Janaideh

Al-Janaideh is the SPRINT project lead and a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory for Social-Emotional Development and Intervention. Her research focuses on refugee and migrant children’s development, education, and wellbeing. Redab received her PhD in Developmental Psychology and Education at OISE-University of Toronto in August of 2021.

We also have a wonderful team of undergraduate volunteers who work on the RAISE project, including Crystal Mui, Anahita Bahreini-Esfahani, and Brianna Valenzuela.


Resources for Families

Our Partners

This project would not be possible without the support of our community and academic partners. We are thankful to:

 Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton (MCGH)

 Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC)

 Mona Aboumrad, University of Calgary

 Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)

 University of Toronto Mississauga

This project is funded by the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF), developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and has been approved by the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board.




All surveys, interviews, and trainings will be done online. Please contact us for more details (maltilab.sprint@utoronto.ca).

Who is eligible for the training?

Any Syrian or Middle Eastern refugee or migrant caregiver of a child aged 2–12 years who lives in the Hamilton, GTA, or Calgary region is eligible for the training. Any practitioner in these regions who works with refugee or migrant families is eligible!

How can I participate in the training?

A member of our team will contact you by phone and/or email to set a meeting with you to discuss the best time for you to receive the training based on your schedule and availability. You will also receive an email/phone call reminder prior to your training session.

How long does the training take?

The caregiver and practitioner trainings are designed to be brief and flexible. They consist of three modules that each take approximately 1.5 hours to complete and are completed over the course of 3 weeks (1 module per week). Each module has 2 components: a self-paced online session that you may complete on your own time (~45 minutes) and a scheduled live virtual group session (~45 minutes) led by one of our trained staff. There will also be a brief introductory session ~1 week before the training starts, as well as two informal feedback sessions ~1 week and ~2 months after training is completed.

What exactly is involved in the training?

If you are a refugee or migrant parent or caregiver, you will participate in 3 modules on

1) Refugee child social-emotional development,

2) The power of relationships, and

3) Refugee child and caregiver stress and well-being, respectively. If you are a practitioner, you will participate in 3 modules on

1) Refugee child social-emotional development,

2) The power of relationships, and

3) Assessment, respectively. Please contact us via email (maltilab.sprint@utoronto.ca) if you would like to receive further information.

Will I receive compensation?

Caregivers and practitioners will receive a $50 gift card for participating.

What happens if I change my mind about participating?

At any point leading up to, during, or after the project, you are free to withdraw from participation. If we have already collected data from you, we will gladly erase it from our records at your request.

What happens to the data collected?

Your data will be stored in an electronic file on a secured server within the University of Toronto Mississauga with an ID number assigned for you and will not include personally identifiable information. The information we collect is only used for the purposes described to you in the consent form that we will provide you. The group-level results from our studies are typically first presented at a professional scientific conference and then reported in scientific and policy journals and shared with the public through infographics and social media outlets. At no point will we share any information identifying individuals.

Will my data be kept confidential?

Yes. Any information we receive from families, through registration or participation in any of our studies, is never shared with anyone outside of our laboratory. All participants in our studies are identified using an ID number rather than by name in all research records.

Can I see my results?

We only report general trends across caregivers and/or practitioners. We will not analyze or report on the results of any individual. Throughout the project and as the project comes to an end, we will provide a report to families with a summary of our overall, group-level findings, as well as information on any scientific presentations, journal publications, and/or knowledge translation material emerging from the study.


Selected Publications

Speidel, R., Galarneau, E., Elsayed, D., Mahhouk, S., Filippelli, J., Colasante, T., & Malti, T. (2021). Refugee Children’s Social–Emotional Capacities: Links to Mental Health upon Resettlement and Buffering Effects on Pre-Migratory Adversity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(22), 12180. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212180 ⇾PDF

Malti, T., Galarneau, E., Zhang, L., Myatt, E., & Yavuz, M.H. (2021). Prosocial development in refugee children. Journal of Refugee Studies. Early online publication, January 9, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feaa104 ⇾PDF

Elsayed, D., Song, J. - H., Myatt, E., Colasante, T., & Malti, T. (2019). Anger and sadness regulation in refugee children: The roles of pre- and post-migratory factors. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 50(5), 846–855. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-019-00887-4 ⇾PDF


Contact Us

Contact Information

Cell phone: (647) 410-4844
Email: maltilab.sprint@utoronto.ca

The SEDI Lab is located on the 4th floor of Deerfield Hall at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).

Our lab’s address is:

3359 Mississauga Road North
Department of Psychology
Deerfield Hall, Fourth Floor, Room 4055
Mississauga, ON
L5L 1C6

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