Ethnicity and Health: How Can We Maximize Urban Green Space for Health Promotion?

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by Jenny Roe, Ph.D. and Alice Roe
Originally published on The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) blog, here. [Jenny Roe, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Design and Health, School of Architecture, University of Virginia. Her recent talk, at our sponsored lecture series, can be found here.]

 

Access to parks and urban green space facilitates exposure to nature, exercise and social opportunities that have positive impacts on both physical and mental health. In the last decade, rates of migration have risen dramatically across the globe: by 2038, it’s expected that half of London’s residents will be of a black and minority ethnic origin (BME). Our cities, towns and communities are becoming increasingly multicultural and, yet there are inequalities. A recent report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission showed that in the UK, ethnic minorities are experiencing worse health outcomes. This is particularly the case for mental health: in 2012, the proportion of adults in England who were at risk of poor mental health was found to be higher among Pakistani/Bangladeshi and African/Caribbean/Black respondents than White respondents, and there were inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Hence, it is increasingly important that research reflects the diverse make-up of these populations. A new study has sought to better understand the differences in use and perception of urban green space among BME groups in the UK, and illustrated the need for park facilitators to accommodate the needs, attitudes and interests of our multicultural population.

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An Inside Look at AERA 2015

Chicago – Site of 2015 AERA. “ChicagoOverheadTiltShift”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of five days in mid April, thousands of researchers, teachers, and administrators came together to discuss current educational issues. Valerie Futch, Ph.D., gives us a look into the 2015 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference held in Chicago this spring. aera jpeg

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Valerie Futch, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor of Education, and Youth-Nex faculty member at the Curry School of Education. Her current work includes several projects that aim to improve understanding of youth experiences in the classroom, in after-school programs, and in relationship to adults. Futch is Program Chair for the American Educational Research Association Out-of-School Time (OST) SIG, American Educational Research Association, 2015 & 2016 Conferences. She was a Youth-Nex postdoctoral fellow from June 2011–August 2014.

Since I’m only one person and can’t be in multiple places at once, I followed a lot of the concurrent sessions on Twitter. If you want a great recap of the main points as well as links to lots of other resources, definitely check out the #AERA15 conversation.

The theme this year was “Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis” and many of the keynotes took up issues of achievement and opportunity gaps, disciplinary discrepancies, access to quality schools, and issues of education policy and reform. For a full listing of keynote speakers and information about their talks, visit the conference page.

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AERA OST-SIG Business Meeting Panel

I also had the opportunity to chair the program for the Out-of-School-Time Special Interest Group (OST-SIG). We had several roundtable and paper sessions, as well as a few posters. Some of the topics that were covered included discussions of what constitutes quality in after-school programs, how we can build collaborative opportunities in out-of-school-time settings, a full paper session documenting outcomes in these programs, and a look at global programs for youth. We also had a very productive business meeting with leading researchers in the OST field where we discussed the ESEA renewal debate in Congress and the importance of funding after-school programs. We are working on compiling all of the slides from our presenters and will post them on our SIG webpage for you to have access to in the next few weeks. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to have access to these materials when we post them!

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Maxine Greene Memorial Program

There were somber moments as well, as several memorial sessions honored and mourned the loss of brilliant scholars. Two who were influential to me were Maxine Greene and Greg Dimitriadis. Both took up issues of art, aesthetics, justice, and philosophy of education. Their ideas fuel many educators and researchers and inspires us to create classrooms that spark creativity. The full rooms and heartfelt memories shared by former colleagues, students, and friends attests to their long-lasting influence on many in the education field.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the Saturday morning Youth Research Festival coordinated by AERA President Joyce King and Distinguished Professor Michelle Fine. Over ten teams of youth researchers from across the nation (and one group from South Africa!) presented their participatory research projects and highlighted the impact these projects had in their local communities. You can learn more about several of the projects by visiting the Public Science Project webpage. I’m looking forward to chairing the OST-SIG program again next year and encourage you to submit your work for presentation at the 2016 conference, to be held in Washington, DC.

The Inside of Mentoring

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Youth-Nex director Patrick Tolan, talks about “What Works in Mentoring?” at the recent YN Works In Progress meeting.

Reported by Youth-Nex Editors

Patrick H. Tolan is professor at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine. He is director of the cross-University multidisciplinary center, Youth-Nex: The U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.

Audio and slides are posted here.

Background, Questions, and Definitions

For 20 years we have known that mentoring can be beneficial, yet we still do not know much about what causes these benefits. Tolan discussed his study, the first meta-analysis to look at the processes inside mentoring.

What difference do mentoring activities like modeling, teaching, emotional support, and advocacy make? Is all mentoring positive?

Knowing how such programs work is important. Some popular social programs thrive and continue to receive funding despite the fact that they fail at producing the desired results. At the same time, we can spend 10 years doing empirical studies which do produce results. Despite this, we don’t fund or create programs based on proven interventions. Mentoring works and it is popular, so it’s important to learn how it works. Continue reading

The Relationship Between Bullying and Other Forms of Youth Violence and Substance Use

By Catherine Bradshaw, Ph.D.

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Catherine Bradshaw is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at U.Va and Co-director of the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention at Johns Hopkins.

Bradshaw writes on new findings from her recent research, “Bullies, Gangs, Drugs, and School: Understanding the Overlap and the Role of Ethnicity and Urbanicity,” published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

The issue of bullying is of growing concern in schools across the United States. Significant research attention has been given to the overlap between bullying and other forms of youth violence, including gang involvement, as well as behavioral health risks, such as substance use. Bullying is a significant issue for schools since it not only creates a poor school climate for students but also negatively affects the work environment for school staff.

An article in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence recently reported the link between bullying involvement, as both a target and a perpetrator, and other forms of youth violence and substance use. The study builds on prior research on the behavioral risks associated with bullying, particularly among the subgroup of youth involved as primarily bullies as well as bully/victims. It broadens previous research by examining more serious forms of involvement in violence, such as gang membership and weapon carrying. The researchers also advanced our understanding of the complex issue of bullying by exploring the potential influence of student ethnicity and community context. Highlights of the study’s report include:

·     The risks named above are present among high school youth (grades 9–12), an age when the risk for more serious forms of substance use, serious involvement in violence, and school failure are considerably higher than in elementary and middle school.

·     While the study findings suggest a great need for bullying prevention programming at the high school level, virtually no bullying prevention programs have been rigorously tested or shown to be highly effective among high school students.

·     Few models have been tested in U.S. urban settings, or with large populations of African American students.

·     The study highlights the need for more targeted programming aimed at adolescents already involved in bullying, especially the bully/victim subgroup.

·     Given the study’s findings regarding the co-occurrence of bullying and other health-risk behaviors, schools should consider addressing the broad range of youth problem behaviors, rather than focusing more narrowly on bullying. For example, programs that promote core skills and competencies that impact multiple outcomes may be most impactful for a range of behavioral and mental health concerns, including bullying.

Abstract: “Bullies, Gangs, Drugs, and School: Understanding the Overlap and the Role of Ethnicity and Urbanicity,” published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Youth Central to Evaluation Efforts of Charlottesville’s Music Resource Center

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By Valerie Futch, Ph.D.

Futch is a postdoctoral fellow with Youth-Nex, studying adolescent identity development, youth-adult relationships in out-of-school programs, and emerging adulthood. She is the recent recipient of the emerging scholar award for the Out-of-School-Time Special Interest Group (OST SIG) at the 2013 American Educational Research Association AERA conference held in San Francisco.

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(JPC Scholars: Courtney Fox, Allie Cooper, Becca Christensen, William Binion)

For the past 18 months I’ve had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of researchers to conduct a program evaluation of the Music Resource Center (MRC) in Charlottesville, as well as develop a way for them to sustainably collect data in the future. This project, which brought together four high-school MRC members, four undergraduate U.Va. researchers, two staff members and two U.Va. faculty, was funded by the Jefferson Public Citizens (JPC) program at U.Va. As this work winds down, we celebrate the release of the U.Va. students’ peer-reviewed article in the JPC journal as well as their second-place finish in JPC’s recent presentation competition, which awarded $250 to the MRC for continuation of the work. Continue reading

A Novel, Strengths-Based Approach to ADHD

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By Michael J. Kofler, Ph.D.

Kofler joined the Curry School of Education in 2012 as a core faculty member and Assistant Professor in the Clinical and School Psychology Ph.D. program. He is the director of the Children’s Learning Clinic (CLC), a new, scientist-practitioner research clinic affiliated with Youth-Nex and Curry’s Ph.D. program in Clinical and School Psychology.

Related posts: Research

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects between 2.8 and 3.9 million U.S. school children, at an annual cost of illness of over $42 billion. Given those staggering figures, it is perhaps not surprising that researchers and mental health professionals tend to focus on the deficits associated with the disorder. Approaching ADHD from a strengths-based perspective is a new concept, and one that will continue to develop over time. At the new Children’s Learning Clinic (CLC), we believe that simultaneous consideration of both their strengths and weaknesses will lead to the best interventions for children with ADHD. If we do not consider all aspects of ADHD – including strengths and weaknesses – we are unlikely to provide the best possible services for these children. Continue reading

Discrimination: How being rejected by one’s own ethnic group affects youth

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By Joanna Lee Williams, Ph.D. Williams is Assistant Professor in Leadership, Foundations and Policy at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and affiliated with Youth-Nex. Her research interests include the role of identity processes related to race/ethnicity, resiliency, and coping in adolescent development, with a particular emphasis on perceptions of stigma and discrimination among ethnic minority youth. She recently received a Racial Discrimination and Health Award of Excellence from the National Cancer Institute for a distinguished poster presentation at the 2011 Science of Research on Discrimination and Health meeting. Her current work examines the nature and frequency of racial microaggressions and their relation to racial ethnic identity development, psychosocial functioning, and achievement outcomes among adolescents and young adults.

Related posts: Research

A central feature of adolescence is engagement in the process of understanding oneself both in terms of personal identity (e.g., What are my goals, values, beliefs, and personal choices?  What are the continuous aspects of my personal character?) and social identity (e.g., Who am I in relation to my reference groups?  How connected am I to these groups and what do they mean for my personal identity?).  Continue reading

News from the Virginia Driving Safety Lab

The YN Blog will feature the research and experiences of  five U.Va. undergraduates working in the University of Virginia Health System’s Virginia Driving Safety Laboratory.

Student contributors, Melissa Avalos, Annie Friedell, Emily Meissel, Glenda Ngo and Julia Thrash work with Ann Lambert and Youth-Nex Associate Director, Daniel Cox.

About the Virginia Driving Safety Laboratory: In order to improve the safety on our roadways, the lab conducts driving safety research and provides patients with the opportunity receive comprehensive assessments of their driving abilities.

Related posts will be found under Driving; and Ann Lambert, Dan Cox.

It is widely acknowledged that driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. However, what many fail to realize is that distracted driving, or simultaneously making use of two of our most useful innovations, the cell phone and motor vehicle, is just as dangerous as drinking and driving, but in different ways, according to Strayer, Drews, and Crouch (2006). Continue reading

Inspiration Through the Humanities at Maximum Security Facility – Residents Relay Impact

U.Va. students with inmates at Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center

U.Va. students interact with incarcerated youth at Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center

Guest contributor, Rob Wolman is the teaching assistant and primary research assistant for the Books Behind Bars / Awakening Youth Project. Rob is a Montessori teacher and corporate trainer.

Related posts: Research, Seed Funded Research, Community

Awakening Youth Through the Humanities is an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods study that seeks to understand the outcomes of a U.Va. course called Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature, and Leadership. In this course, undergraduates travel to a maximum security correctional facility to lead incarcerated youth in discussions and creative activities related to great works of Russian literature. The course brings college students and correctional center residents together in a community of learning that uses the power of literature to inform, transform, and build connections between people from widely diverse backgrounds. Continue reading

Applying Social Network Analysis to High School Students

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By Judy Beenhakker, Senior Research Coordinator with Youth-Nex.
Slides and audio
of the talk can be found here.

Related posts are available under Research, Works In Progress Meetings

Rob Cross, professor of management at the U.Va. McIntire School of Commerce and Research Director of the Network Roundtable, gave a talk entitled “Applying Social Network Analysis to High School Students” at the October Works in Progress Meeting.  His current work is primarily centered in the corporate world, examining social networks to gather insight on success or failure of a company.  Using software that enlists mathematical algorithms to make predictions and summaries, survey-based data from company employees is analyzed and evaluated. Continue reading