iSparx – Gaming, Health and Wellness

iSparx – Gaming, Health and Wellness

June 26, 2018

10 Minutes


About the author

Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people.

A year ago we were invited to join a major initiative being hosted by York University called ‘iSparx’.  The idea was to create a game with Nunavummiut that would address health and wellness through a technique called ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’.  Before we were brought in the game was tested across a number of Nunavut communities and the response was great. This is a game that was originally developed in New Zealand for Maori youth.  We are now working to bring it to Nunavut.

What is iSparx?

iSparx is a new project that Pinnguaq is facilitating in 6 Nunavut communities. The iSparx project will be led by Chelsea Singoorie, supporting York in the development process, reskinning and localizing the entire game as an Inuit version with both new and Inuktitut language support. The iSparx project is designed to have community youth design and then test an Inuit computer game that supports mental health. Youth who sign up to participate will be supported by project facilitators, elders, and other community members, and receive a lot of valuable training in making video games in Inuit cultural knowledge. They will also receive education in mental health principles and leadership, and participate in a youth retreat.

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The Partners

The iSparx team is a partnership between the Isaksimagit Innusirmi Katujjiqaatigiit Embrace Life Council, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre, Pinnguaq, and the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research (York University, Toronto, Ontario). iSparx commits to promote the resilience and well-being of Inuit youth and to be community informed and community led. Nunavut communities will collectively own and control how the iSparx data is collected, used and shared.  

What Comes Next

During our recent te(a)ch session in Pangnirtung, the iSparx team joined us and began their work.  Five youth joined the team and began the process. The iSparx started by meeting with members of the hamlet council and the health and wellness committee of the community.  The youth joined us later in the week to explore what the game is talking about and to make recommendations based on their experience playing the game.

Pinnguaq is now in possession of the source code for Sparx and will work with youth across Nunavut to make the needed changes and adjustments to the game, the graphics and the language in the game to best suit Nunavummiut.

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Trained trainers, fresh out of the tech boot camp of te(a)ch will help lead and create these changes with our experts on board to help guide and mentor. We are looking forward to seeing what is produced over the next 5 communities we visit.

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