Abstract: Building Resilience through Participation in Research (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Building Resilience through Participation in Research

Friday, January 14, 2022
Independence BR F, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Kevin van Mierlo, BA, Master student, University of Waterloo, Ontario, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose

Audre is a qualitative research project conducted in the Netherlands to understand the needs and experiences of LGBTQIA youth in child protection services. In this presentation, I will reflect on my unique position within Audre, as I was first an interviewee to the project, to later become a research assistant in the team. The aim of this presentation is to shine light on the potential impacts and consequences for queer youth of taking part in a research project with a participatory approach.


This presentation is about how I found my way out through my past and pain via the sincere support of a select group of people who displayed acts of acknowledgement. I will share my reflections on these experiences in the hope that it may inspire a more wholesome substance to the professional and/or scholarly endeavors in the field. This paper is led by an epistemological inquiry on expertise, which lays at the heart of the participatory models, since it is through discounting the knowledge of others that we exclude. By utilizing an auto-narrative method, I shall first tell my story. After which I shall elaborate on the impact of the Project.


As a queer youth who has been through the Dutch Child Protection System, there is an undeniable and particular pain and trauma that is part and parcel of my personhood. Participation in research about one’s own lived experiences can be very triggering for any young individual. As such there must be a space for interacting with this so that the researchers can truly get to know the human aspect behind the participant.

Throughout my experience with Audre, the inclusivity of their method stood out to me. Every young person that wanted to add more than their story to the project were allowed to do so, and in whichever quantity they were able to. Joining the research team as a research assistant allowed me to give rhyme and reason to my painful experiences in a context that contributes to a bigger whole, e.g. academic research, and policy changes. Being included into the project allowed me the space in which I could develop vital research skills through interaction with the research team, through attending academic events, and through coffee table chats with professors and professionals. Central to my experience with the project was the feeling of utility of my experience. Being a research assistant allowed me to reclaim my stories, to add new chapters to the past and allow pride to become part of it.

Conclusions and Implications

This presentation is based on my own experiences during my participation in project Audre. I will offer my own reflections on how we can better include the knowledge of non-scientist in scientific knowledge production, particularly queer youth, and how we can envision academia if a more wholesome approach is incorporated.