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BCTR Talks at Twelve: Amanda Purington, Yoon Hyung Choi, Dominic DiFranzo, Thursday, December 13, 2018

 
portrait of Amanda Purington

Social Media TestDrive: Digital Literacy Education for Youth
Amanda Purington, Yoon Hyung Choi, Dominic DiFranzo - Cornell University

Thursday, December 13, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
ILR Conference Center, Room 423



(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Amanda Purington    children    education    social media    youth   

Time in nature to improve kids’ health


Adapted from an article by David Nutt for the Cornell Chronicle

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund (AVF) supports collaborations that cut across disciplines to address today’s greatest sustainability challenges. In 2018, the fund awarded $1.5 million to a range of projects that will provide sustainable solutions around the world, from the Finger Lakes to the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia.

Among the 12 projects are efforts aimed at transforming nutrient-rich poultry waste into economically viable fertilizers; developing in-situ conservation strategies for African rice; boosting nature-based engagement for elementary schools in low-income communities; and connecting rural and urban areas across New York state through a public “Internet of Things” infrastructure.

portrait of Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

Included in the 2018 funded projects is Opening the Door to Nature-Based Engagement, on which the BCTR's Janis Whitlock is a co-investigator.

Young people today show greater rates of stress and anxiety, a trend that coincides with a growing recognition of the threats to the natural environment. Employing a One Health approach, researchers will examine how curricular programing that provides students more time in nature can lead to healthier populations and environments. The project will specifically focus on elementary schools serving low-income communities in urban and rural areas, and will identify curricular best practices and generate data to inform programs and state policy for long-term social and environmental impact. The project also received a Engaged Cornell supplemental grant. Co-sponsored by MPH.

Investigators: Gen Meredith, population medicine and diagnostic sciences; Don Rakow, horticulture; Nancy Wells, design and environmental analysis; Janis Whitlock, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research; Monika Safford, Weill Cornell Medicine; Samantha Hillson, Tompkins County Health Department.

Atkinson's Academic Venture Fund awards $1.5M to 12 projects - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: children    environment    grant    health    Janis Whitlock    media mention    mental health    youth   

Getting youth to drink water, not sugar


young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    children    focus group    government    health    Karen Schantz    New York    nutrition    research    youth   

Doing Translational Research podcast: James Garbarino, Friday, September 21, 2018

portrait of james garbarino View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: James Garbarino

Redeeming Teenage Killers
March 21, 2018

James Garbarino
Loyola University Chicago


Redeeming Teenage Killers
March 21, 2018

James Garbarino
Loyola University Chicago

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Janis Whitlock, Friday, September 21, 2018

portrait of Janis Whitlock View Media

Doing Translational Research podcast: Janis Whitlock

Cultivating "Broader, Better Human Beings"
January 22, 2018

Janis Whitlock
Cornell University


Cultivating "Broader, Better Human Beings"
January 22, 2018

Janis Whitlock
Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: doing translational research    Janis Whitlock    podcast    self-injury    youth    Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab   

Evaluation data improves youth pregnancy prevention programs


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

portrait of Amanda Purington

Amanda Purington

Using data gathered from the evaluation of health education programs to make improvements is an important component of quality adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. That’s the conclusion of BCTR staff Amanda Purington, evaluation and research director of ACT For Youth, a BCTR project focused on positive youth development and adolescent health.

Purington presented ACT for Youth’s approach for collecting and using data for program improvement in May at the 2018 Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Conference in Washington D.C. The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families and Office of Adolescent Health. Her workshop was selected for the conference based on the work ACT For Youth does as part of New York State’s Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).

“This conference was a great opportunity to demonstrate how we’ve streamlined our evaluation data collection process and describe how we’re working with practitioners to use that information to improve programming,” Purington said.

The presentation detailed an effective process to promote collaboration between evaluators, technical assistance providers and practitioners. The process uses online methods to collect program implementation data from educators and creates interactive data visualizations. It allows practitioners to explore factors that impact program retention and implementation, and encourages them to use that information to improve their programs.

ACT for Youth, funded by the New York State Department of Health, is 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, prevention programs for sexually-transmitted diseases, and the mentoring program Pathways to Success. 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 Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    health    pregnancy    youth   

Career Explorations puts future in 4-H’ers hands

Tags: 4-H,   media mention,   STEM,   youth,   youth development,  

teenaged boy shakes hands with a robot

A participant at the 2018 4-H Career Explorations learns to program Baxter, a robot in Cornell’s Department of Computer Science.
photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension

By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

More than 500 middle and high school students from across New York gathered at Cornell’s Ithaca campus June 26-28 to participate in life-changing workshops taught by Cornell faculty, staff and graduate students during the annual 4-H Career Explorations conference.

“The goals of 4-H Career Explorations are for young people across New York state to have the opportunity to come to Cornell and learn about themselves, their peers, campus life and careers,” said Alexa Maille, extension associate with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. “We hope they have the opportunity to try out new identities and possibilities for their futures and discover pathways and people who can help them pursue their individual future goals.”

Dozens of scholarships were made available through the New York State 4-H Foundation and Cornell University.

The conference’s 27 programs connected youth to academic fields including engineering, animal science, astronomy, environmental science, food science, nanotechnology and human development, facilitated by the Colleges of Human Ecology, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering, the Faculty of Computing and Information Science, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

youth standing with mannequins wearing dresses

4-H'ers in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension

New this year was “Dress Code,” a program that allowed participants to explore the integration of fashion and computer science.

“From the jacquard loom, known as the first computer, to the current use of algorithm-driven design and fashion management practices, technology and fashion go hand in hand,” said program leader Katherine Greder, a doctoral student in the field of fiber science and apparel design.

Students made pocket looms that they used to weave binary code into small samplers, visited the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection to see examples of old punch cards and intricate jacquard woven fabric, and learned about the connection between 3D body scanning and coding.

“The reason we wanted to present this more tech-focused approach to fashion is because the industry is rapidly changing,” Greder said. “Many of the future jobs in the fashion industry will require a proficient command of computer-aided design and an understanding of coding.”

The Women in Science program, part of Career Explorations for 17 years, explored how social science can be used to investigate the question of why fewer women than men are found in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and exposed students to social science fields such as human development and psychology.

“One of the focuses of the program is how diverse science is; it’s not just chemistry or engineering,” said Caisa Royer, the Women in Science program leader and a graduate student in the dual J.D./Ph.D. program in developmental psychology and law. “For me, the primary goal is for students to start thinking differently about both science and their opportunity to become scientists, but also to help students get excited about college and the types of opportunities they will have in the future.”

Graduate students discussed their research, experiences in the academic world and love of their specific scientific studies, as well as potential careers in science disciplines and what types of credentials are necessary to pursue these careers.

Wendy Williams, professor of human development and academic lead of the Women in Science program, said: “By focusing on social science questions and methods, my program shows students that not all scientists work in wet labs. Some scientists study human behavior, motivation, goals and attitudes, and answer questions about how human behavior can be understood and modified.

“By attending Career Explorations and spending time on the Cornell campus, these students get a feel for college life, and it is demystified for them,” Williams said. “If my program reaches young women and men and encourages them to apply to college, it will have done its job.”

The hands-on experiences at Career Explorations have been influential for many students.

Livingston County 4-H’er Serena Blackburn said she “had a really interesting experience” at Cornell’s Wilder Brain Collection: “I was able to hold a human brain, and being able to hold what was someone’s entire consciousness in my hands was a really eye-opening experience.”

Blackburn, who graduated from high school last month, said her participation at the Career Explorations conference the past two years helped her decide to study sociology at the State University of New York College at Brockport this fall.

“I was looking at psychology and learned about sociology there – what it entailed, how it compared to psychology, the research areas, etcetera – and it influenced my decision to go into sociology.”

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    media mention    STEM    youth    youth development   

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   
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