Optimizing Life Success Through Residential Immersive Life Skills (RILS) Programs for Youth With Disabilities


Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital




Child-onset Disability


Behavioral: Non-residential life skills programming
Behavioral: Residential Immersive Life Skills programming

Study type


Funder types



14-506 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


In Canada, between 3.6% and 7.7% of children under 19 years old are thought to have a chronic health condition that results in disability or limits to activity. These young people have difficulty finding jobs, attending school, living independently, and forming relationships with other people. These poorer life outcomes are partly the result of a lack of life skills. Life skills include the ability to solve problems and set goals, which allows youth to deal with the demands of everyday life. Several children's treatment centres in Ontario offer short-term residential immersive life skills (RILS) programs to provide youth with these life skills to help them take on adult roles. RILS programs are very promising in terms of making a long-term difference in youths' lives because they provide a place where youth can learn by doing, working with peers and taking risks in a safe environment. However, we do not yet know how well skills that are learned in RILS programs are kept up as time passes or how well RILS programs support broader skills, such as the ability to make one's own choices. The proposed research will examine these issues and will ask the following questions: What opportunities are youth given when they participate in RILS programs? What specific strategies do RILS service providers use to support youth in learning life skills?; How do youth experience and perceive their participation in a RILS program, before, during and after they take part? What do their parents expect and experience in terms of their child's participation?; and What changes do youth experience, particularly in terms of their ability to make choices for themselves and their sense of being able to cope with things that come up in their lives? The study will involve youth from several treatment centres in Ontario over the next three years. Youth who are attending RILS programs will be compared with: youth who are similar to the RILS youth, but who are taking part in a life skills program that is not residential; youth who applied to a RILS program and were accepted, but who will take part in the program in a different year; and a group of youth who are similar to the RILS youth but who are not taking part in any life skills program. Youth will provide data at four time points: before the program starts, immediately after the program finishes, three months after the program is over and 12 months after the program is over.


29 patients




14 to 21 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • All youth must be between 14 and 21 years of age, have a child-onset disability, be able to set goals for themselves, and speak English.
  • Parents who are enrolled must speak English.

Exclusion criteria

Youth with severe behavioral issues will be excluded, since these would restrict the youth's ability to participate in a group learning experience.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

29 participants in 4 patient groups

Residential Immersive Life Skills group
Active Comparator group
Youth will take part in a residential life skills program of between one and three weeks, consisting of formal workshops, peer learning, outings in the community, one-on-one coaching and daily living tasks carried out with peers (e.g. cooking, laundry, grocery shopping).
Behavioral: Residential Immersive Life Skills programming
Non-residential life skills program
Active Comparator group
Youth will take part in programs focusing on increasing specific life skills, but taking place only during the day (i.e. non- residential).
Behavioral: Non-residential life skills programming
Deferred RILS applicants
No Intervention group
Youth who applied to a Residential Immersive Life Skills program but are deferred to a subsequent year. These youth are included as a comparator group to match the motivation level required to apply to a RILS program.
No life skills program
No Intervention group
Youth who did not apply or take part in any group life skills program. These youth provide a diagnosis and age matched comparator group.

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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