Welcome to the Wellness And Youth Social action Lab!

The Teen Wellness Team at work.

“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

The WAYS Lab is devoted to improving the socio-emotional health of all children through community-partnered research on mental and behavioral health disparities and their solutions. We do this by centering the voices of youth as co-researchers, engaging with individuals and organizations in Central Virginia, and creating interdisciplinary partnerships at UVA, including with the Equity Center, YouthNex, and the School of Education and Human Development. Beyond research, we strive to promote holistic well-being through community educational outreach and cultivating a supportive and inclusive lab environment. The WAYS Lab is dedicated to inspiring and training the next generation of child health equity researchers through mentorship and participatory action research.

Our Values:

  • Commitment to power- and resource-sharing
  • Recognition, inclusion, and celebration of many forms of knowledge and knowledge production
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Collaborative, community-partnered scholarship
  • Creativity
  • Social action as a research outcome


Contact us for more information about the WAYS Lab

Click Here to Email Us

Assessing mental and behavioral health disparities: The WAYS Lab is using information from UVA pediatric clinics to better understand the burden of mental illness and related symptoms among children in Charlottesville. Specifically, we are interested in characterizing racial/ethnic, geographic, and socio-economic disparities in common mental illnesses – such as mood disorders, eating disorders, and behavior problems – and their treatment.
Current Funding: iTHRIV Scholars Program

Teen Wellness Team: We are a team of adult and youth researchers, including Charlottesville-area high school students, who are conducting a qualitative study. Our goal is to better understand the mental health strengths, needs, and priorities of adolescents in Central Virginia using a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) approach. Youth participants on the team also receive a longitudinal curriculum on the process and ethics of research, STEM careers, and how to serve as mental health advocates in our community.
Current Funding: iTHRIV Scholars Program

Compassionate Schools Project: The WAYS Lab is part of an interdisciplinary research group working to implement and evaluate the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP) in Charlottesville. The CSP is an innovative curriculum that teaches mental wellness, physical fitness and mindful eating, and compassion for oneself and others. This group includes investigators and collaborators from UVA’s School of Education and Human Development, the UVA Contemplative Sciences Center, and Charlottesville City Schools.
Current Funding: iTHRIV Scholars Program

Contact us for more information about the WAYS Lab

Click Here to Email Us

Featured publications

  • The Teen Wellness Team published a post about their experience with youth participatory action research for the YouthNex blog.


  • Our abstract “Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health in Primary Care Settings” was accepted to the Pediatric Academic Societies 2024 annual meeting.
  • “Measuring Pediatric Mental Health: Strengths and Challenges of the Electronic Health Record” was presented at the the 43rd annual McLemore Birdsong Pediatric Conference by Cecilia Rogers and Dr. Irène Mathieu.
  • “Charting pediatric mental health disparities: Lessons from a primary care electronic health record” presented at the 2023 Academic Pediatric Association’s annual Region IV meeting by Cecilia Rogers and Dr. Irène Mathieu.
  • Dr. Mathieu gave Grand Rounds at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the use of narrative practices in health equity education.
  • Dr. Mathieu was named a 2022-24 iTHRIV Scholar:
  • Dr. Mathieu gave Grand Rounds at the UVA Department of Pediatrics on lessons in community-engaged research.
  • In collaboration with Dr. Julia Taylor, the team’s workshop proposal on using youth participatory action research was accepted to the 2024 Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine Conference.