Lived Expertise

Social Development Centre has been working in a unique approach for decades, recently called Lifelong Engagement, to remain grounded in the direct and authentic access to knowledge of the most marginalized and underserved populations. It is called lifelong because we work on long-term relationships with the community connectors and ensure supports that can sustain their lasting involvement. Our staff recognized that we had to rely on the lived experience of people living in poverty, living with disabilities, newcomers, seniors, women and youth, who were the only true experts in directing  the work in policy advocacy and service changes that impact their lives. We learned to step back and work in support of underrepresented voices offering our connections, organizational capacity and utmost respect for their resiliency and wisdom. This type of work is being more and more recognized for its indispensable role and value for our common sustainable future in Waterloo Region. 

Current Initiatives 

Previous Initiatives 


Wellbeing Waterloo Region Surveys 2018 / 2022

Four years after the first Wellbeing Waterloo Region survey initiative across all seven municipalities in 2018, our community connectors are invited to participate in the 2022 mini survey development to ensure longitudinal data collection. The two members of immigrant and racialized communities will work together with Wellbeing WR partner organization representatives also on development of data collection strategies in underserved communities. 

Please read more from the 2018 reports on the survey responses collection in populations hard to reach such as low income, homeless and persons with disabilities, as well as the recommendations brought forward with the community connectors who collected the responses during the sense-making process in 2019. 


cCHALLENGE Pilot Project 2022

cChallenge Banner

Building a strong sense of individual agency can be the first and necessary step in countering the climate change locally. A group of nine participants, undertaking multiple challenges instead of just one, learned and shared over 30 days their successes, challenges, and shifts in thinking about change in the current social, economic, political and multi-cultural contexts. What is the environmental footprint of A Better Tent City? How would diverse meat-eating traditions adjust to the current meat-alternatives inspired food production and consumption? How do we instill new sets of values to the children regarding technology, energy consumption, reusable containers? How do we experience food growing, preparation and enjoyment as spiritual? Why are colder showers so invigorating? The report we are compiling will reveal some of the answers, as well the validation that we need more authentic voices in the climate justice work in the region from African and Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and low-income communities. Persons with disabilities, seniors and youth. We hope to build on this pilot and start new transformational approach with group, community, system and cultural challenges. 

Please read the 2022 Pilot Project Report.