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Collaborating to help youth communicate


photo of a teen boy speaking at a microphone standing in front of a red curtain

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

New York State 4-H (NYS 4-H) Youth Development is partnering with communications and theater experts from Cornell and the Ithaca community to offer a 4-H Communication Institute this summer.

The weekend-long program will offer 4-H teens the opportunity to attend workshops led by teaching assistants from the departments of communication and performing and media arts and professionals from Civic Ensemble, an Ithaca theater company. Participants will also work on their personal presentations, resumes, and participate in mock interviews. Institute organizers have three goals for the event:

  1. To have Cornell undergraduate, graduate, and faculty members share their knowledge and skills with 4-H alumni, parents, and educators;
  2. For Cornell students engage in experiential learning, applying their knowledge in a workshop setting;
  3. Finally, for 4-H members and parents to explore communications and performing arts and to take new skills back to their home communities around New York State.

Jamila Walida Simon

“This collaboration is a great one,” said Jamila Walida Simon, NYS 4-H civic engagement specialist who is helping to organize the conference. “The organizations participating in the conference are each focused on a single purpose: to be able to tell a credible story. Whether we talking about traditional communication techniques or performing arts, the lesson is in the crafting of the story.”

The idea, Simon said, is to help teens from across New York State to improve their communication skills while providing Cornell students with the opportunity to become teachers, sharing what they have learned in their studies and evaluating the work of 4-H teens.

4-H districts from across New York State will select teen members with strong presentation skills to attend the institute. In addition, Jodi Cohen, a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication, will host workshops for 4-H educators, volunteers, and parents. This year, the conference will be free to participants, although lodging is not included.

The hope moving forward is to continue the program so that New York State teens are able to improve their communications skills to serve them in college and beyond.

“I hope that we will be able to build up our communities through our work in Cornell University Cooperative Extension,” Simon said. “This is one way in which we can extend the research of the university into communities.”

(2) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    collaboration    communications    Jamila Walida Simon    youth   

Event celebrates program that helps youth in care

Tags: CARE,   Martha Holden,   RCCP,   residential care,   youth,  

photo of a handmade sign reading "CARE in Action Day" with a blue balloon tied to itBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The Hillside Family of Agencies hosted their first annual CARE in Action Day this month at their Varick campus to celebrate how CARE, the Residential Child Care Project’s program model that promotes evidence-based approaches in supporting troubled youth, has transformed their practice.

The Varick Campus, which provides residential care for youth with emotional and behavioral challenges, adopted the CARE program model in 2007.  CARE stands for Children and Residential Experiences: Creating Conditions for Change. The model is a research-informed framework created by the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP) at the Brofenbrenner Center that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships between caregivers and youth.

The celebration included a showcase of student artwork, a keynote speech by a former resident, a performance by The Youth Voice Band, and seminars explaining how the CARE program model works.

“It was pure joy to be included in the CARE event,” said Martha Holden, director of the Residential Child Care Project and creator of CARE. “The engagement of staff, children, and their families made for an exciting and poignant day.  It was very emotional – the mother speaking, the keynote, the youth band – such a visual representation of the powerful and important work that is happening at Varick.”

CARE is used in more than 50 agencies in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, all collecting data and contributing to the on-going development of the knowledge base of what works in residential care.

The CARE model improves the social dynamics in residential care settings by engaging staff in a systematic effort to provide developmentally-enriched living environments, create a sense of normality, and improve the socio-emotional and developmental outcomes for children.

The CARE model is based on six core principles:  relationship-based, trauma-informed, developmentally-focused, competency-centered, family-involved and ecologically-oriented.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: CARE    Martha Holden    RCCP    residential care    youth   

Promoting good behavior online


Portraits of Janis Whitlock, Natalie Bazarova, and Drew Margolin

Janis Whitlock, Natalie Bazarova, and Drew Margolin

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR research scientist Janis Whitlock is joining a new collaborative project at Cornell’s Institute for Social Sciences that will look at how technology influences pro-social and anti-social behaviors, and how to promote good behavior online.

The project is named "Pro-Social Behaviors in the Digital Age" and co-led by Natalie Bazarova and Drew Margolin, faculty members in Cornell’s Department of Communication. The central idea is to develop new information about the best ways to reduce negative interactions and promote positive interactions on social media platforms.

“Most of us are well aware of the way virtual social spaces can quickly become forums for base human exchange,” Whitlock said. “Understanding why this happens and, most importantly, how we might intervene as bystanders, developers, or policy makers is one of our primary goals with this project. We want to be part of the larger conversation about how to replace the worst of us with the best of us in online gathering places.”

The project team – which also includes Vanessa Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior and Renѐ Kizilcec, assistant professor of information science – will focus their research on four areas:

  • preventing the spread of fake news,
  • preventing cyberbullying,
  • promoting online support for mental distress, and
  • promoting online support for people in educational settings.

The project will receive funding from the Institute for Social Science for three academic years. In the second year, project team members including Whitlock will spend half of their working hours “in residence” at the institute to promote interdisciplinary collaboration. During the third year, they hope to publish work from the project and secure funding from an external source to keep the project going.

Whitlock brings nearly two decades of research experience on youth mental health. For this project, she will focus on online exchange related to mental health distress and well-being, as well as collaborating with project team members on their focus areas..

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Janis Whitlock    Natalie Bazarova    research    social media    technology    youth   

Using disruptive innovation to grow 4-H

Tags: 4-H,   Andy Turner,   CCE,   New York,   video,   youth,  

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Portrait of Andy Turner

Andy Turner

If you follow business news – and specifically small, up-and-coming companies – you may have heard the term “disruptive innovation.” The theory, developed by Clayton Christensen from the Harvard Business School, describes how a product or process can leap ahead of established market leaders by reducing cost, increasing convenience, and bringing new customers to the table.  Could disruptive innovation help grow 4-H?

Andy Turner, head of the New York State 4-H Youth Development program (administered through and housed in the BCTR) of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) thinks so. He is applying disruptive innovation theory to 4-H.  His dissertation, published in 2016, documented disruptive innovation at Cornell Cooperative Extension and attempted to identify the factors and conditions allowing innovation to grow and be adopted more widely.

Turner was asked to present his work at the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) Virtual Town Hall Meeting in Orlando Florida earlier this year.  Turner and the other panelists discussed the challenges and barriers facing innovation adoption and responsiveness to emerging issues in CCE. The presentation reached a live audience of 300 and an online audience of an additional 500 extension staff from across the country.

Cooperative Extension has existed for more than 100 years with established programs and a track record of success, Turner said. But its approaches and organizational culture may not align well with changes in our culture, demographic shifts, and the impact of the internet on all facets of education.

“As a result, disruptive innovation is particularly relevant to Cooperative Extension as its work shifts to new ways of thinking and acting that will appeal to youth with new challenges, different approaches to learning, and markedly different expectations for engaging with educational institutions,” he said.

Dr. Turner is applying his work on innovation at a critical time for 4-H. 4-H offers an experiential learning approach to reach over 6 million youth annually, with programming in nearly every county in the nation.  However, like many large youth organizations, 4-H participation levels have not been growing, and there are many communities and youth that are underrepresented in 4-H programming.

In response, the national leadership of 4-H has embraced an ambitious growth vision, with the goal of using concepts like disruptive innovation and collaborative design processes to increase 4-H’s enrollment to 10 million youth by 2025.  Turner will be working with national 4-H leadership and private-sector 4-H supporters over the next two years to develop a blueprint for change based on identifying promising innovations already underway within state 4-H programs.

Dr. Turner leads a team of 8 program and administrative leaders at the New York State 4-H Office in the BCTR. You can reach him at ast4cornell.edu.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Andy Turner    CCE    New York    video    youth   

ACT for Youth awarded new contract with NY State


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

ACT for youth logoA BCTR project that helps New York youth lead more positive, healthy lives will expand its work with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

The state awarded a new contract to the Assets Coming Together for Youth Center for Community Action (ACT for Youth), a BCTR project focused on positive youth development and adolescent health. The project will receive $1.1 million in each of the next five years to develop training and resources, provide technical assistance, and evaluate youth intervention programs.

ACT for Youth has partnered with the NYSDOH since 2000. This is the project’s fourth contract with the state.

Headshot of Jane Powers

Jane Powers

“We’re thrilled to continue working with the New York State Department of Health, supporting their efforts to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in our state,” said Jane Powers, the project director.

ACT for Youth is currently working on several community-based initiatives that focus on adolescent sexual health promotion and youth development: Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, Personal Responsibility Education Program, Successfully Transitioning Youth to Adolescence, and Pathways to Success. As part of the new contract, ACT for Youth will now also support prevention programs for sexually-transmitted diseases for youth. The organizations that house these programs are diverse, ranging from large, urban hospitals to small community agencies. Each program incorporates positive youth development strategies into their work with young people.

ACT for Youth is a partnership among the BCTR, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of New York City, and the Adolescent Medicine Division at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Related:

ACT for Youth: Measuring positive youth development

ACT for Youth supports sex education and positive youth development at Provider Day

Teen Outreach Program helps prevent teen pregnancy

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    health    Jane Powers    sexual health    youth    youth development   

ACT hosts visiting scholar from Malaysia


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

This winter, the BCTR hosted a visiting scholar from Malaysia who shared information about youth development programs in her country.

Professor Haslinda Binti Abdullah is an associate professor and the deputy dean of research and innovation at Universiti Putra Malaysi.

Abdullah spent a week in Washington, D.C. at the American Evaluator Association conference, where she gave a presentation titled “Evaluating Trajectories of Youth-Adult Partnerships in Malaysia and United States” with Jane Powers, the project director of the BCTR’s ACT for Youth Center for Community Action.

Powers and Abdullah shared findings from evaluations of youth-adult partnerships conducted in the U.S. and Malaysia. Their research from both countries demonstrated that when youth and adults learn and act together as partners, they can produce high-quality and sustained efforts that endure over time.

Professor Haslinda Binti Abdullah with ACT for Youth Network members

Professor Haslinda Binti Abdullah (in red) with ACT for Youth Network members

Next, Abdullah visited Ithaca, where she met with BCTR staff for cross-cultural dialogue about youth development programs. And finally, she visited New York City, where she met with Cornell Cooperative Extension youth development practitioners and the ACT for Youth Network, a group of youth consultants who advise the NYS Department of Health and ACT to ensure their materials, resources, and research instruments are youth-friendly.

“It was a rich visit,” Powers said. “Malaysia is a very different society compared to the U.S. It was valuable to learn about the issues that young people face in another part of the world and the types of programming offered. For example, how they handle sex education in a primarily Islamic country.”

“But what was really enlightening to our team was discovering our similarities,” Powers said. “Because despite the differences, we learned that we share more than think.”

Abdullah said that she found the visit insightful, and hopes to continue collaborating with ACT.

“I find it interesting on how technology helps in term of promoting health-related programs organized by the ACT Youth Network,” she said. “And I learned about the reality of what it means for youth in New York to be involved with youth programs such as ACT.”

(2) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    international    Jane Powers    youth   

The new Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

stylized mountains and large sun shape with the text Youth Risk and Opportunity Cornell Lab

After more than a decade of research on self-injury, a BCTR laboratory is expanding its focus to include research on social media and adolescent sexual health as well.

The Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery has changed its name to the Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab, or YRO.  Laboratory director Janis Whitlock, a BCTR research scientist, said the name change demonstrates how the laboratory had broadened its reach in recent years.

portrait of Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

“Our work on self-injury helped to establish a whole, and now robust, field of study. I am now happily returning to more fundamental interests related to technology as a context for social and emotional development, sexual health and development, and development of innovative interventions. I am excited!”

The Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab is involved in several new projects that inspired the name change.

Two projects are particularly good examples of the laboratory’s expanded focus. Whitlock is working with communications assistant professor Andrea Won and associate professor Natalie Bazarova to develop and test virtual reality treatments for people with self-injury or anxiety disorders. The concept is to create alternative worlds that will help people during moments of stress and encourage them to seek treatment with a therapist.

“The question is, can we transport people into a space that may take the edge off their self-injury desire or anxiety?” Whitlock said. “There are also larger questions of how this type of technology affects people,” she said. “What are the limitations of humans and what does that mean about how we use these kinds of devices?”

In addition, Whitlock has partnered with NYS Department of Health and ACT for Youth to lead an evaluation of a program for adolescent boys that aims to prevent them from becoming future perpetrators of sexual violence. The program is a strengths-based curriculum to help middle school boys learn relationship skills and build healthy relationships with peers and adults.

The lab is still focused on studying self-injury as well. Currently, they are surveying individuals who have self-injured in the past to inform the development of tools that will help professionals screen and better.

Learn more about the Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: communications    CRPSIR    Natalie Bazarova    technology    youth    Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab   

Talks at Twelve: Elizabeth Day, Thursday, April 19, 2018

 
portrait of Elizabeth Day

Bridging Policy and Social Science: How Legislators Describe Their Use of Research in Policymaking
Elizabeth Day, Cornell University

Thursday, April 19, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



Rigorous research and public policy ought to go hand-in-hand; if policymaking were based on hard evidence and dispassionate analysis, it could create the conditions for improving the lives of children, youth, and families. Yet a gap persists in the use of social science to inform public policy in the United States, which may be due, in part, to a lack of understanding as to how legislators utilize research evidence throughout the policy process. Based on in-depth interviews of over 200 state legislators, this presentation explores the uses of research in policymaking based on the unique perspectives of policymakers themselves, with a particular focus on youth and family issues. Implications for research and practice, as well as advice to academics, will also be discussed.

Elizabeth Day is a postdoctoral fellow for Cornell Project 2Gen in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. Her research focuses on bridging research and policy, with a particular focus on adolescent well-being and family policy at the state level. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies and Graduate Certificate in Social Policy from Purdue University. Prior to joining the BCTR, Elizabeth was a Society for Research in Child Development Congressional Policy Fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).


Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Lori Biechele at lb274@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Talks at Twelve    children    Cornell Project 2Gen    Elizabeth Day    family    policy    youth   

Talks at Twelve: James Garbarino, Thursday, March 22, 2018

 
portrait of James Garbarino

Miller's Children: Why Giving Teenage Killers a Second Chance Matters for All of Us
James Garbarino, Loyola University Chicago

Thursday, March 22, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Ten-Eyck Room, Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Botanic Gardens



Are teenage killers doomed to a life of violence? The Supreme Court said “no” in the case of Miller v. Alabama, ruling they are “less guilty by reason of adolescence,” and thus exempted from mandatory life-without-parole sentences (except for the “rarest cases” of “permanent incorrigibility”). This has made thousands of men (and some women) eligible for re-sentencing hearings around the country. Garbarino explores the issues of education, maturation, psychological intervention, and spiritual development that drive the rehabilitation and transformation central to these cases. The presentation is based upon his work as a psychological expert witness in more than 40 “Miller” cases, as reported in his 2018 book Miller’s Children, in which he brings to bear developmental psychology and modern neuroscience.

James Garbarino holds the Maude Clarke Chair in Psychology and was founding director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. Since 1994, he has served as a scientific expert witness in murder cases. Among the books he has authored are: Miller’s Children: Why Giving Teenage Killers a Second Chance Matters for All of Us (2018) and Listening to Killers (2015). He has received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service and the Paul Fink Interpersonal Violence Prevention Award from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, among other awards.


Book signing in the garden shop on the first floor of the Nevin Welcome Center to immediately follow lunch

Lunch will immediately follow the talk. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Lori Biechele at lb274@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Talks at Twelve    incarceration    James Garbarino    youth   

PRYDE conference on social media literacy in youth


news-2017-prydeconf-inpost

front (l to r): David Dunning, Elaine Wethington, Kristen Elmore, Jutta Dotterweich, Jamila Simon, Esther Kim, Rachel Sumner. back: Chinwe Effiong, Paul Mihailidis, Kayla Burd, Josh Pasek, Jonathon Schuldt, Monica Bulger, Neil Lewis, Norbert Schwarz.

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

What does the research tell us about how young people use social media? And what can educators do to teach youth how to use social media in productive, positive ways?

These were the questions researchers addressed at the second annual conference hosted by the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). The conference, titled “Media Literacy and Citizenship Development in Youth and Emerging Young Adults,” was held from November 9 to 11 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. It included multidisciplinary researchers and media developers from across the nation focused on youth, communications, misinformation, and media use.

Elaine Wethington, professor of human development and sociology and an associate director of the BCTR, organized the conference. She is a medical sociologist whose research focuses on stress, protective mechanisms of social support, aging, and translational research methods.

Sam Taylor presenting

Sam Taylor presenting

“There are few topics more urgent to address than the relationship of increased reliance on social media as a means of communication and the impact of the new media on social and political institutions,” Wethington said.  “Our long-term goal is to develop new ideas about how to translate research on promoting productive social media use among youth into effective programs that engage youth and emerging adults and their development as informed citizens.”

In addition to invited talks from leading media, communication, and social and developmental psychological researchers, the conference included discussions and group activities about how to teach youth to become positive stewards of social media and the information exchanged on the web. Moving forward, those ideas will help to inform projects in the Cornell Social Media Lab, a PRYDE collaborator.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: conference    Elaine Wethington    PRYDE    social media    youth    youth development   
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