2021 University Outreach and Engagement Awards

2021 University Outreach and Engagement Awards

Ohio State's University Outreach and Engagement Awards honor faculty, staff, students and community partners for outstanding achievement in producing engaged scholarship and community impact. Congratulations to this year's recipients!

Recipients will be recognized on April 13 at the event OSU Engages: Celebrating Engaged Scholarship at Ohio State.

Community Engaged Scholar Awards

The Community Engaged Scholar Award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated engaged scholarship that has impacted communities. Community Engaged Scholars have made significant contribution to Ohio State's culture of engagement, further establishing and strengthening the institution's commitment to supporting communities.

Award amount: $1,000

Associate Professor
College of Social Work

Dr. Holly Dabelko-Schoeny is an applied community-based scholar seeking to improve the delivery of home and community-based services for older adults and their caregivers through collaboration with community agencies, older adults, and interdisciplinary faculty. During her 18-year career at Ohio State, she has focused her research in the community, and during the past five years, has specifically focused on community-based participatory research, and how to improve the built and social environment for older adults. For the past two years, Dabelko-Schoeny has been been the director of research for Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County. In her role, she has worked across the university collaborating with faculty in medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, and arts and sciences, to name a few.

The College of Social Work became the home of Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County in January 2018. This program, a part of the World Health Organization and AARP, seeks to provide easy access to services, amenities and opportunities, and by working together to ensure a high quality of life for people of all ages and abilities make our communities better. This is made possible through research, inclusive planning, advocacy and a dedication to innovation.

Over the past two years, Dabelko-Schoeny has led several planning and evaluation efforts in the Central Ohio aging community, relying on older adults themselves to be the experts on their own needs. In true community-based participatory based research fashion, she and the staff of AFCFC set up focus groups across the Central Ohio community and also sent out surveys to those who could not attend a focus group in person. From this data, they created the AFCFC strategic plan, that sought to utilize community partners to make the changes and improvements older adults wanted to see in order to improve their quality of life. Walk audits were conducted to determine the need for sidewalk improvement in several areas of the city, focus groups were held for non-English speaking older adults to learn of their needs and connect them to resources. She built a collaboration with the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio to identify and then list Age-Friendly businesses, to better serve older adults. Dabelko-Schoeny received funding from Honda to help recruit and again hold focus groups with older adults to determine what accommodations or innovations would be needed to improve their ability to use automobiles longer. Some of her community collaborators include the Central Ohio Area Agency of Aging, the City of Columbus, LeadingAge Ohio, Franklin County Office on Aging, Honda, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to highlight a few. Dabelko-Schoeny has also focused on evaluating and improvement transportation for older adults, through her Safe Routes in Aging, a program she collaborated on with faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington. This used an app to track older adult movement, by foot or other means, to identify barriers, and to then work toward eliminating them.

Professor
Department of English, Department of African American and African Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Simone Drake specializes in and has chaired a field of study that applauds and advances engaged scholarship: Black Studies. However, she has gone beyond disciplinary expectations by personally creating and hosting six nationally viewed Summer 2020 webinars in her Black Matters 101 series: "Policing Black Communities," "Dismantling Structural Inequalities," "Taking a Knee, Voting, and Making Speech Matter," "Voices from Generation Z," "How are the Children," and "Creativity During the Pandemic." Panelists consisted of Ohio State faculty, students, staff, and alumni, as well as corporate and non-profit community leaders.

Over the last several years Drake also has been responsible for several community arts programs, as well as panels on health and well-being, urban renewal and community development, and K-12 education held at the Community Extension Center on Mt. Vernon Avenue. Additionally, she has worked with Columbus City Schools, Olentangy Local School District, and the Metro Schools system on ways to broaden inclusive excellence and is currently working with safety security and police diversity training in Franklin and Delaware counties.

In addition to the hundreds of viewers of the webinars and the continuing requests from community educators and city employees, another measure of the impact of Drake's work is the large number of Ohio State professors who have worked with her and are continuing to select her in partnership with their engaged scholarship grants, including faculty from the Collge of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, the College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Engineering, and College of Arts and Sciences. More recently, the Moritz College of Law has extended her a courtesy appointment. With degrees in English, Classics, African American Studies, and Law, Professor Drake is very interdisciplinary and that interdisciplinarity has increased her community presence and impact.

Associate Professor
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
College of Public Health

Since joining Ohio State, Dr. Darryl Hood has contributed through his community engaged research to influence curriculum, programs and policy. His research focus has been to determine if there are associations between the built, natural and social environment and disparate health outcomes in vulnerable populations. He has taken on the issue of environmental injustice head-on and in a holistic way. He has recently framed the challenge as an opportunity for a system approach to understand the many inputs to disparities in health in the time of COVID.

Currently, Hood is leading efforts to develop a program with the residents of the King-Lincoln Bronzeville district and Mt. Vernon neighborhoods. Enriching Environmental Endeavors via e-Equity, Education and Empowerment envisions that the OSU African American and African Studies Community Extension Center (CEC) will serve as the nucleus for change and equity in the district. This initiative reflects his capacity to forge critical alliances, with multiple partners, to accomplish goals.

Hood is also leading a project to document a significant dampening of maternal and child health disparate outcomes including infant mortality, to positively improve the health and development of residents in the high-risk neighborhoods and census tracts of Columbus, which has one of the higher infant mortality rates in the country. Community partners in this work include Columbus Early Learning Centers, PrimaryOne Health (Health care provider), CareSource of Ohio (Medicare provider), and St. Vincent Family Center (family mental health). An additional critical impact of these important collaborations is the facilitation of broader community engagement with Ohio State, as a whole, including greater access for collaborating colleges.

Professor, Director of Institute for Democratic Engagement & Accountability (IDEA)
Department of Political Science
College of Arts and Sciences

Michael Neblo directs the Institute for Democratic Engagement & Accountability, which seeks to mobilize the resources of the academy to serve the public good in our local, state, national, and international communities. IDEA focuses on three related areas: generating and disseminating knowledge about American political institutions; studying and fostering high quality political dialogue and deliberation in our communities; and furthering the university's mission announced in its motto: Education for Citizenship.

Neblos work to educate for citizenship primarily involves developing people's deliberative and participatory skills in order to enable them to engage in self-government. IDEA creates opportunities for this skill development not only on-campus (via a First Year Experience offering to participate in online deliberative forums), but also in Ohio and across the country via the Connecting to Congress initiative. C2C sponsors Deliberative Town Halls pairing groups of community members with their sitting elected officials to deliberate about pending policy issues. In 2020, the project rapidly reoriented all of its work to help communities across the country engage their representatives in Congress on all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic.

From March through September of 2020, Connecting to Congress organized eight online Deliberative Town Halls for constituents of 10 congressional districts (including two in Ohio). The goal was to take Neblo's proven, nationally recognized model for high-quality deliberative engagement and deploy it to enhance two-way communication, counteract misinformation, and increase trust in and cooperation with community public health measures. To do this, the project recruited a broadly representative sample of community members from each participating district, but also made the events public so that any members of the community who wanted to could access their elected official, ask questions, and share their experiences during this national emergency.

Prior to each Deliberative Town Hall, participants received non-partisan, factual background information compiled from CDC and other official government and scientific sources about the pandemic and its effects on the local communities. In these events -- held with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress as well as local public health officials -- community members asked questions ranging from, "Is it safe to go to an emergency room?" to "My bank has not submitted the application to the SBA. What options do I have now that there is no money left?" to How should I protect my students if the windows in my [public school] building don't open? The design and moderation of these forums precluded officials giving simple talking point responses. Constituents confirmed this genuine form of responsiveness: in post-event surveys about 90 percent of participants said they found them valuable for our democracy and would do another. Trust in the job the member was doing on COVID typically increased by double digits, and the vast majority said they would share the information they had learned with family and friends. Additionally, members said they also valued the opportunity to reach beyond their usual networks and to focus not on handling the logistics of the event, but simply fostering a sense of community with and among their constituents.

Professor
Department of Geography
College of Arts and Sciences

Since coming to Ohio State a little over six years ago, Dr. Elisabeth Root has actively engaged with state and local public health partners on initiatives ranging from infant mortality, to the opioid crisis, to COVID-19. For the HEALing Communities Study, Root has developed partnerships with local opioid coalitions and substance use organizations and has used a community-engaged participatory approach to support data-driven decision making around the implementation and expansion of community-based opioid programs and interventions. Root and her team listen to each community's goals and priorities and identify areas were data may empower communities to better understand and address the opioid crisis. She then facilitates conversations among community partners to enable data sharing so that partner organizations have the data and information they need to make informed decisions. This innovative engagement approach puts the power of data science into the hands of local, community-based organizations. She has also assisted local coalitions in negotiating data sharing agreements with Ohio state agencies, thereby connecting local- and state-level organizations with common goals and objectives.

Root has also served as a resource for the state of Ohio through partnerships with the Ohio Department of Health. In early March 2020, when state leadership realized that the COVID-19 pandemic required an unprecedented response, Root was asked by ODH to serve as a faculty liaison between ODH and Ohio State. In this capacity, Root worked at the Ohio Emergency Operations Center through the summer to develop a comprehensive data-driven surveillance system to monitor the coronavirus, leverage data science techniques such as mathematical modeling to inform policy decisions, and advise public health officials to ensure the community's safety and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. This relationship has enabled Ohio State researchers from across the university to partner with state leadership on a number of different initiatives throughout the COVID crisis. Related to this, Root has been involved with local school districts though the development of the COVID-19 Analytics & Targeted Surveillance (CATS) Tool. Through this initiative, she has helped school superintendents across the state use COVID and school data to make decisions about the health and safety of children in the classroom.

Root is dedicated to a community-based engagement approach, where local organizations are full and equal partners in the research process. She believes that this type of partnership is vital for research to have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of communities. Further, she has dedicated her time at Ohio State to developing ways in which complex data science methods and techniques can be used by local communities to address health inequalities.

Assistant Professor, Founding SciDome Director
Department of Physics and Department of Astronomy
College of Arts and Sciences

In June 2018, Dr. Michael Stamatikos spear-headed the opening of the SciDome, a $2.1 million, multi-sensory, immersive 4K digital theater environment affording an interdisciplinary and comprehensive STEM experience. The Newark Advocate ranked the SciDome's opening among the top 10 stories of 2017. Explore Licking County gave SciDome the Collaboration of the Year IMPACT award in 2017, for the unique public-private partnership between OSU Newark, which is Ohio State's largest regional campus with a record enrollment of ~3,000 diverse students in 2019 from 74 of 88 Ohio counties, and The Works Museum, which services 165 schools in 16 counties and annually accrues ~60,000/~10,000 visitors/students. This longstanding partnership has enabled special events, such as the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party (2017) and the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11's lunar landing (2019), that expand community engagement in local under-served rural communities and underrepresented Appalachian populations.

As a modern-day Lyceum, the SciDome enables systematic access to informal science education beyond the classroom. Through our community partnerships and comprehensive programming, we provide continuing education that fulfills Ohio State's 150-year promise as a land grant university and realizes our motto: Education for Citizenship. Since June 2018, Stamatikos has served as the OSUN Founding Director of the SciDome and The Works' first Chief Science Officer. Our mantra: "teach on all levels" has resulted in K-Infinity programming:

  • Kids' Tech University (Primary Students, Since 2014): All day workshop where 9-12 year old students explore a single question, e.g. How Do We Know Black Holes Exist If We Can't See Them?, via interactive lecture demonstrations and hands-on activities (supporting A Call to College).
  • SciDome Academy (In-Service Primary Educators, Since 2017): A year-long professional development program that helps teachers develop new NASA research results into standards-aligned, inquiry-based projects incorporated into their curricula.
  • AstronoME Academy (Secondary Students, Since 2019): An in-depth series of astronomy learning experiences for high school students in east central Ohio, which help them explore STEM careers and education pathways related to science.
  • IceCube Master Class (Secondary Students and In-Service Educators, Since 2019): A one-day activity where high school teachers and students participate in a guided analysis of real IceCube data and learn about science careers.
  • Astronomy 1143 (Undergraduate Students, Since 2016): Introductory cosmology course for undergraduates attending OSUN taught exclusively in the SciDome (since 2018) that satisfies the College of Arts and Sciences general education requirement for science.
  • COTC Lifelong Learning Institute (Adult Continued Learning Program, Summer 2018) Exploring the Universe: Cosmology, Black Holes and Prospects for Extraterrestrial Life, mini-course comprised of four, two-hour classes.
  • Behind The Science (Since 2018): Aimed at adults who enjoy lifelong learning, guests will hear from dynamic speakers about current science topics, from astronomy to zoology, in a way that is both educational and entertaining.
  • Blowing Off STEAM (Since 2017): Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math (STEAM) informal, open forum discussions that embed local content experts from academia and industry, which foster an interdisciplinary alliance between local academic institutions (OSUN, Denison University and Ohio University Zanesville) and businesses (31 West, Coffee Shack, Granville Library) akin to a Science Cafe.

Community Engaged Champion Award

The Community Engaged Champion Award recognizes university leaders who have made significant impacts on communities across Ohio, the nation and the world. Community Engaged Champions have created an environment at the university to ensure that faculty, staff and students are engaged with the community in meaningful ways.

Award amount: $1,000

Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
College of Social Work

Dr. Ramona Denby-Brinson is professor and associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University. Her scholarly interests include policy, programming, and treatment issues relevant to children and families; child welfare; childrens mental health; and culturally specific service delivery. She is one of the nations leading scholars in the area of kinship care. Recognized as one of the leading national experts in culturally-adapted child welfare services, Denby-Brinson has published extensively on the topic and is the recipient of the 2014 Harry Reid Silver State Research Award in recognition of her research, which is highly regarded, community-engaged, and responsive to the needs of vulnerable communities and populations.

Denby-Brinson has a diverse funding portfolio including federal, state, foundation, and university awards. She has been awarded more than $32 million in grants, including federal funding to conduct research related to child and family well-being. Currently, Denby-Brinson utilizes her experience in social services and research knowledge to assist nonprofits and public agencies in building their capacity to better serve their clients. Dr. Denby-Brinsons work is lauded because it is community-based, community-driven, and community-relevant. She lives by the ethos that community-engaged research must be useable, utilized, and have measureable impact. In addition to her own community-engaged work, she has devoted her career to helping others develop their research programs and to respectfully and skillfully engage with local, regional, and national communities. In multiple states, she, her teams, and the community-engaged scholars that she has supported, have established programs and services in communities and helped multiple organizations build capacity and sustain their services.

In Ohio, Denby-Brinsons community engagement is best exemplified in the work that she is engaged in with Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY). In many respects, the work with SAFY embodies Denby-Brinsons career-long record of community engagement, especially in the area of child and family service delivery. SAFY was founded in Lima, Ohio nearly 40 years ago based on the idea that "children belong in families." Although headquartered out of Ohio, SAFY operates in seven states including Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina, employing 500 individuals who focus on the safety and healing of families and children so that they can build resilience and thrive. Dr. Denby-Brinson began her engagement with SAFY-served communities more than 20 years ago while living in Nevada and now continues that work in Ohio. She indicates that some of the most meaningful work has been organizing the efforts of multiple teams comprising varied academic disciplines from the university, to work with youth, parents, child welfare agencies, and a wide network of community providers. Together, the community teams implement therapeutic services to mitigate the risks and trauma that children have experienced, help them develop healthy, positive, and supportive relationships with adults, and in doing so, increase their protective factors. Additionally, the practice interventions and research have led to hundreds of children securing permanency via guardianship or adoption; or returning safely to their birth homes. Using a community collaborative approach, Denby-Brinsons work not only fosters intellectual discoveries, but it builds the capacity of local non-profit and community agencies and organizations to effectively address local and national mental health and child welfare challenges.

Community Partner Award

The Community Partner Award is presented to a community agency/group/institution that demonstrates collaborative work with university faculty, students and staff, resulting in a partnership that produces positive impact in the community and at Ohio State. Nominations can come from faculty, staff, students and community organizations.

Award amount: $1,000

The primary partnership between Ohio State and the North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) is the Mansfield Microfarm Project. NECIC co-presented on the Mansfield Microfarm Project with Dr. Kip Curtis and Brian Snyder of InFact in the Schmidt Future's Alliance for the American Dream competition. They were one of the top three projects selected to represent Ohio State to co-present with Curtis at Arizona State University. They ultimately were not successful in that competition, but the project secured a $1 million Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research grant matched by another $1 million from local organizations and donors in addition to Ohio State and NECIC. That project is currently concluding year two of three and recently garnered another significant grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

That project developed gradually over several years through individual meetings and community group meetings. The community has rallied behind the project, and it is widely touted as a creative and promising approach to longstanding problems -- including a lack of job opportunities in the most economically depressed area of the city of Mansfield, abandoned and blighted properties in that area, food insecurity, and the need for more locally-sourced food production for environmental, economic, and social justice reasons. Research is being conducted on the project so that others will be able to learn from it.

In addition, NECIC and Ohio State Mansfield collaborate in a variety of other ways. An Ohio State Psychology faculty member, Dr. Phil Mazzocco, leads a "Social Justice Book Club" hosted by NECIC for community members. NECIC pays faculty in the summer who are involved in the Algebra Project as part of Ohio State Mansfield's Math Literacy Initiative, which frames mathematics education as a civil right and works to improve K-12 math pedagogy and teacher training. NECIC has partnered with Ohio State Mansfield to offer diversity forums. NECIC also currently partners with the Kirwan Institute on Ohio State's Columbus campus. NECIC partnered with Ohio State on a special awards program hosted by the Area Agency on Aging and Richland County Children Services. They also partnered on the creation of the "Grandparents Room" at Mansfield Senior High School with Ohio State Mansfield.

NECIC also frequently sends guest speakers to Ohio State Mansfield classes on various topics, and Ohio State faculty similarly speak to NECIC community gatherings periodically. Some of the Ohio State faculty and staff involved in such partnerships include Dr. Adrienne Hopson, Renee Thompson, Dr. Heather Tanner, LuAnn Howard, Dr. Donna Hight, Dr. Terri Bucci, and Dr. Kelly Whitney. The NECIC's Tony Chinni speaks periodically to classes at Ohio State Mansfield as a guest lecturer. Currently, an Ohio State Mansfield student in our Professional Writing Minor internship program is writing a grant for NECIC to replace tools in their community tool shed. And NECIC regularly partners with us to organize Ohio State Mansfield's annual Soul Food Dinner (in honor of Black History Month each February), which brings more community members to the Ohio State Mansfield campus each year than any other event. Additionally, NECIC has worked with Dr. Judy Villard in OSU Extension to support Community Gardens and Richland County Master Gardener Training.

In sum, the relationship between NECIC and Ohio State is both deep and broad. It has developed over many years and is nothing short of a gift to Ohio State. Without NECIC, the Mansfield Microfarm Project quite simply would not have happened, let alone that we have turned to NECIC again and again for their leadership and insights in helping us address issues of common concern for the betterment of our community and our campus.

Community Engaged Program Awards

The Community Engaged Program Award recognizes outstanding achievement by faculty, staff and/or student led programs/initiatives focused on community-university partnerships and impact.

Award amount: $1,000

The Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Ohio State Chapter has been working on an agricultural project in N'jau, The Gambia since 2015. It consists of a partnership between EWB, Womens Initiative The Gambia (a local NGO), and the community of Njau. A community garden is being implemented to resolve problems with malnutrition and hunger in the community. The community experiences a dry season for six months in which they cannot grow food. EWB is working to solve this problem through an irrigation system and water pump. Previously, a fence, water pump, solar panels, and water tank have been built in the community garden. In the future, a water tower and irrigation system will be completed. However, due to COVID-19, the process had to be delayed. The community has been supplied with maintenance plans to ensure the longevity of the system.

Another component of the project is educating the community on how to grow different crops. Less than 60 years ago, The Gambia was under colonial rule and only grew cash crops. The agriculture education program creates ownership of the project within the community. They will be able to grow crops to resolve malnutrition and improve the overall health of the community. EWB fundraises and designs the engineering solutions, the local NGO provides leadership within the community, and the community ensures a sustainable project. Along with international projects, EWB works on local projects in Columbus. The same model of community involvement from the international project is used in the local projects. An engineering solution by itself creates no meaningful change in the community. Working with the community to identify needs, find solutions, and create ownership of the project ensures a successful and sustainable engineering solution.

Primary Contact: Ethan Wert

Community Partners

Women's Initiative The Gambia, local professionals

Ohio State Partners

College of Engineering, Global Water Institute

The Columbus Free Clinic (CFC) is a student-run free clinic offering acute and chronic primary care services to underserved patients on Thursday evenings. Patients are seen by an interdisciplinary healthcare team including students and volunteer providers from medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and social work to provide quality, comprehensive care. Currently, we are able to provide primary care, medications, laboratory services, and social work services, along with select specialty care including psychiatry, PT/OT, and gynecology.

Individuals who seek out our clinic generally cannot afford medical care and many do not have health insurance. Many of our patients see physicians infrequently, creating a disparity between the population we serve and the Columbus community at large. We see many individuals suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and mental illness, and often these patients face numerous barriers in managing their illnesses.

CFC works to address a variety of barriers to community health. One of the greatest causes of morbidity to our patients is hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia, reflected by the fact that in 2018, 11 percent of patients making appointments indicated that they needed an appointment to follow up on either hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol. One example from the past year was an expansion of our diabetes education program and the addition of a hypertension education program. Both programs are longitudinal and meet with patients several times over six months to provide medical care and medications as well as education regarding the management of their diseases and resources available.

Members of our student steering committee attend an annual conference for student-run free clinics where we are able to learn from other clinics and share knowledge from programs our clinic has implemented in the past year.

Primary Contact: Molly McNamara

Community Partners

Columbus Department of Public Health, Ohio Association of Free Clinics

Ohio State Partners

College of Medicine, College of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, College of Law, Wexner Medical Center Financial Aid Department, Department of Family Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Department of Laboratory Services, Department of Radiology, the James Cancer Hospital

For four years, The Dementia Project has played an active role in the community in three ways: educating students on the disease, initiating moments of joy via music therapy, and documenting the life stories of people with dementia - so that for as long as they forget, their stories will always be remembered.

When the world began to change due to the pandemic, The Dementia Project stayed in contact with their partners: The Kemper House and Alzheimer's Association, even though they could not visit in person. It is shown that those with declining cognitive abilities are able to slow the progression of the disease via interaction, music, and physical touch. Furthermore, due to isolation protocols from COVID-19, dementia patients suffered the most (emotionally and physically).

In response to this, and with the help of partners, the virtual Opening Minds through Engagement Program was delivered. Within this program, virtual programs were delivered in order to increase human interaction and promote the positive effects of music therapy. An example of a session includes: A musical opening by a jazz band with a virtual drumming circle followed by a virtual/interactive cooking show, and ends with a chance for the guests to share their stories. The response of patients after this program was astounding, as it was clear that the positive affects of interaction can be shared virtually via the right method.

In addition to creating this program, The Dementia Project hosted a socially distanced Walk to End Alzheimers. Through this program, they raised over $1500 for the Alzheimer's Association.

For more information, please visit: http://www.dementiaproject.org

Primary Contact: Kaylie Glenn

Community Partners

The Alzheimer's Association of Central Ohio, the Kemper House

Ohio State Partners

Ohio State's service-related student organization "The Dementia Project: Musical Memories"

The Opioid Epidemic was declared a national emergency in 2017, and Ashtabula, Ohio was one of the worst affected areas, with a 100 percent increase in opioid related deaths in 2017.

Having the tools of SKY Breathing Meditation, which had helped people in their recovery journey, a team at Ohio State's College of Nursing and the Signature Health Clinic in Ashtabula applied for a grant with the Opioid Innovation Fund at Ohio State. In May 2018 the team received a $10,000 Pilot Grant from the OSU Center for Clinical and Translational Science to evaluate the effectiveness of SKY Breathing Meditation as a therapeutic option to people working to overcome addiction to opioids and other substances. In October 2018 the team carried out this pilot study with 10 patients from Signature Health Clinic in Ashtabula, and the findings from that study demonstrated a decrease in stress, depression, and anxiety from SKY Breathing Meditation. The team presented its findings at The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities Opiate Conference for patients, behavioral health specialists, and clinics, and they also presented their work at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) conference, and were featured in the Columbus Dispatch. They are in the process of getting this work published.

The success of the study led them to connect with community partners in Ashtabula who were contacts made through the pilot from the participants, and the small community has continued to grow, first in Ashtabula County, and then in Columbus, and they currently have an online community (due to the pandemic) of people from Ashtabula, Columbus, and staff/faculty from Ohio State, who meet up for a host of activities - yoga, SKY Breathing Meditation, and reflection sessions.

Primary Contact: Jill Klimpel

Community Partners

Signature Health Clinic, the Ashtabula Public Library, Maryhaven Clinic, Amethyst Clinic, the International Association for Human Values

Ohio State Partners

College of Nursing, Department of Political Science, SKY @ OSU, OSU Opioid Innovation Fund

The Virtual Lab School (VLS) at the Ohio State University partnered with the City of Columbus, Future Ready Columbus (FRC), Action for Children (AFC) and childcare centers across Franklin County to launch VLS Momentum, a pilot project focused on providing high-quality, accessible professional development to Columbus early childhood workforce. In 2020, the state of Ohio updated requirements for programs that serve families receiving subsidized childcare, i.e., families with the greatest economic need. To receive funding, centers must be enrolled in the states childcare quality rating and improvement system, Step Up to Quality (SUTQ), which evaluates centers on factors that lead to improved outcomes for children, including teacher education level. The City of Columbus, FRC, and AFC were anxious to meet the needs of the local community and ensure that there continued to be a sufficient supply of subsidized childcare to accommodate family need while ensuring the centers providing care were high quality with well-trained staff.

The team primarily focused on forming partnerships with childcare centers with a two or below SUTQ ranking to provide their teaching professionals the training and coursework necessary to obtain their Child Development Associate (CDA), a nationally recognized credential that represents comprehensive foundational competency in ECE practices. By participating in VLS Momentum, childcare professionals can learn research-based, developmentally appropriate practices for working with young children and earn the professional development hours required to apply for their CDA.

VLS Momentum findings will be used to adapt VLS resources that are free to the public. Research findings describing the community effects will be disseminated through publications and conference presentations, as well as used as a model for how other communities can enhance their early childcare workforce. In addition, the team continues to work with its partners on future opportunities to support the local ECE workforce.

Primary Contact: Sarah Lang

Community Partners

Franklin County Early Childhood Education Centers, Future Ready Columbus, City of Columbus, Action for Children

Ohio State Partners

Virtual Lab School, College of Education and Human Ecology, Department of Human Development and Family Science