Jelena Komanchuk


Jelena is a Registered Nurse with clinical experience in pediatrics and neonatal intensive care and research experience with the Working for Kids study and Pediatric Emergency Research Team. She is a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Nicole Letourneau at the University of Calgary. Jelena is passionate about the health inequities experienced by children facing adversity and is interested in evaluating innovative interventions to support children’s health and development. In her free time she enjoys reading, running, hiking, and spending time with her animals.


First Pathways Doctoral Research

Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse and neglect, increase children’s risk for short- and long-term health concerns ranging from difficulty reaching developmental milestones in childhood to an increased risk of heart disease in later years. While early adversity can disrupt healthy development, supportive and nurturing parents can buffer the effects of adversity on children’s health outcomes. Parenting programs have shown effectiveness in improving parent-child interactions, yet transportation, lack of child-care, and schedule conflicts are examples of common barriers to attending in-person programs. Improvements in technology and the ubiquity of smartphones support the digital delivery of parenting interventions while removing accessibility barriers to attending in-person programs.

The First Pathways Game is a free, online parenting intervention created by Dr. Judy Cameron, a renowned neuroscientist, to support parent-child interactions, children’s development, and parental knowledge of healthy brain development. Under the supervision of Dr. Letourneau, Dr. Cameron, and Dr. Linda Duffett-Leger, Jelena will recruit Calgary families with children aged 3-36 months who have experienced adversity to participate in the First Pathways Study. The purpose of the study is to understand if the First Pathways Game impacts Parent-Child interactions and children’s developmental outcomes. If found effective, this intervention has the potential to support the health and development of numerous children as it is freely available online.