An independent evaluation study by Maureen Weiss, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, shows that Girls on the Run, a national physical activity-based positive youth development program for elementary-age girls, has a profound and lasting positive impact on girls’ confidence, competence, connection to others, character, caring, and life skills.
Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that uses running as a vehicle for teaching life skills to girls in third through fifth grades. The intentional life skills curriculum and mandatory annual coach training set Girls on the Run apart from other activity programs. The three-part curriculum teaches understanding of self, valuing relationships and teamwork, and exploring one’s connection to the world.
Weiss’s study revealed that:
Girls on the Run participants were significantly more likely than girls in organized sport and physical education to learn and use life skills including managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions.
97% of girls said they learned critical life skills at Girls on the Run that they are using at home, at school and with their friends
Girls who began the program with below-average scores dramatically improved from pre- to post-season on all outcomes—competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. This shows that girls who might need a positive youth development program benefited most from their participation.
Girls who were the least active before Girls on the Run increased their physical activity level by 40% from pre- to post-season and maintained this increased level beyond the program’s end.
The video and the website illuminate the study findings through an interactive format. The study has also been publicized on Globe Newswire.
“Girls on the Run participants scored higher in managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions than participants in organized sport or physical education,” said Weiss. “Being able to generalize skills learned in the program to other situations such as at school or at home is a distinguishing feature of Girls on the Run compared to traditional youth sports and school PE, and suggests that the intentional life skills curriculum and coach-training program can serve as exemplars for other youth programs.”
CEHD alumnus and professor emeritus Leo McAvoy received the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) on July 31 at an evening reception at the Campus Club. Regent Abdul Omari presented the award, which recognizes McAvoy’s significant contributions to outdoor and adventure education. The OAA is the University of Minnesota’s highest award for its graduates.
McAvoy earned a Ph.D. in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies from the College of Education and Human Development, and spent more than 30 years as a professor in the School of Kinesiology. He directed the Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies division for a total of 12 years, and served twice as acting director of the School. He has been honored nationally for his contributions to his field, including its highest honor, the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research.
What makes McAvoy’s work special is his focus on populations that are often overlooked in the literature. Much of his research concentrated on the notion of inclusive recreation. His groundbreaking work challenged long-held myths about the preferences of individuals with disabilities for outdoor environments and the extent of their participation in adventure activities. Throughout this career, McAvoy collaborated with nonprofit organizations such as Wilderness Inquiry, an inclusive outdoor program in Minneapolis, and consulted for schools and government agencies.
McAvoy was also recognized for his skills in the classroom. His classes included hands-on work, such as visiting a local YMCA camp to participate in a high ropes challenge. McAvoy is beloved by his former students, who remember his passion for the outdoors and his innovative syllabi. Many of his advisees attended the award ceremony.
McAvoy’s frequent research collaborator, former School of Kinesiology professor Stuart Schleien, shared in his nomination letter: “Leo’s work exemplified the ideals of integrating research with action, and I would regard him as one of our field’s outstanding scholars in his ability to share his knowledge, expertise, and experiences to multiple audiences.”
Hailee Moehnke, a graduate student in the School of Kinesiology and a recent recipient of the Edith Mueller Endowed Fund for Graduate Education in the Tucker Center scholarship, was noted in her hometown newspaper, The Katy News, of Katy, Texas.
Moehnke, who is advised by Professor Maureen R. Weiss, is pursuing her Masters of Science in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Her research focus is in Positive Youth Development, and she is interested in learning how participation in sport and physical activity affects youth psychological and social maturity.
Leo McAvoy, Ph.D., professor emeritus of recreation in the School of Kinesiology, has been awarded the University of Minnesota’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award.
Dr. McAvoy earned a Ph.D. in 1976 in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies from the College of Education and Human Development and taught and conducted research for over 30 years in the School of Kinesiology. He has been honored numerous times nationally for his contributions to the parks and recreation field, and early in his career was elected to the Academy of Leisure Sciences, one of 55 such scholars in North America at the time. In 2004 he received the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research, his field’s highest award.
During his career, Dr. McAvoy focused his research on populations often overlooked in the field–access for individuals with disabilities and initiatives with American Indians related to their relationship to outdoor recreation and recreation resources. He pioneered efforts in the 1980s and ’90s to create opportunities for access to the outdoors for all people, and to achieve inclusion and inclusive programming.
Mary Jo Kane, Ph.D., School director from 2005-2011, says, “Deeply committed to issues of diversity and social justice, Professor McAvoy was one of the first scholars in the country who placed at the center of their work the various and important ways individuals with disabilities interact with the outdoor environment. He is one of the most dedicated and passionate people I know, an individual who has had a profound impact in both his personal and professional capacity.”
The Outstanding Achievement Award may be conferred only on graduates or former students of the University who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level. It is the highest honor bestowed by the University outside of the Honorary Doctorate degree.
A college ceremony honoring Dr. McAvoy is planned for late summer or early fall.
In the article, Inoue discusses his thoughts on changing the financial structures of college’s sports programs, explaining that by doing so, it would make sports teams more attractive properties for their respective institutions to invest in.
Azizah Jor’dan, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology alumna (Ph.D., 2012), McNair Scholar, and current Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard Medical School recently received funding for her NIA K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Career Development project, entitled “Vascular mechanisms and tDCS treatment of gait and posture in aging and age-related disease.”
The NIA K99/R00 is a career development award presented by the National Institute on Aging as an early career mechanism for postdoctoral fellows to facilitate career advancement.
For the 5th consecutive year, the U.S. State Department will support the American Culture Center (ACC) for Sport in China administrated by the University of Minnesota. From September 2016 until August 2017, the funding will be $75,000 to Li Li Ji, Ph.D., professor and director of the School of Kinesiology, the PI of the grant.
The ACC focuses on the introduction and promotion of sport as an American heritage and value. The main activities include on-campus, year-round programs and featured lecture tours that visit various Chinese universities.
In January 2017, Ji, Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, and Gregory Welk, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion and exercise at Iowa State University, will visit four universities. The goal is to introduce how mobile devices are being used to promote physical activity on U.S. campuses.
On Tuesday, December 6, the 2016-17 China Champions visited Jo Ann Buysse, PhD’s KIN 5511 course on Sport and Gender. The athletes presented an overview of their careers to students, and discussed roles of gender in sport in China. Students heard presentations from both the athletes and coaches perspectives.
The National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, MN, has written a blog post on the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions Program. The post, “China Champions Visit the NSC,” details the visit and activities of the Champions at the internationally renowned amateur sports facility.
The 2016-17 China Champions were introduced to former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale last evening at an event hosted by Peggy Lucas, member of the U of M Board of Regents and a supporter of the China Champions program. Mr. Mondale met each athlete individually and discussed his work in opening diplomatic doors to China and his many visits to the country.
Also attending the event were School of Kinesiology director Li Li Ji, Ph.D., and associate director Rayla Allison, J.D.
Mr. Mondale also served as a U.S. senator representing Minnesota and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton from 1993-1996.
Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.
Angela Ruggiero, M.Ed., 2011 School of Kinesiology Sport Management alumna, has been named Head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission. In an announcement from the IOC, Ruggiero’s experience was noted saying, “[Ruggiero] is a former ice hockey player who has played more games for Team USA than any other man or woman.”
The U.S. State Department has presented the School of Kinesiology and its partner, Tianjin University of Sport (TUS) in China, with the American Center for Cultural Exchange Network’s 2016 Excellence Award.
This is the first year of the award, created to recognize members of the American Cultural Center (ACC) for outstanding work in fulfilling the mission of the organization.
The ACC has twelve centers funded by the U.S. State Department, each focused on a particular area of American culture. The School of Kinesiology and partner Tianjin University of Sport is the only ACC focused on sport. The partnership’s goal is to “foster and deepen the appreciation for American culture through sport among Chinese students and people in the Tianjin metropolitan area.” The partnership sponsored educational lectures and visits, on-site programs, and collaboration with other ACC network members. A number of School of Kinesiology faculty and staff as well as the U of M community were involved during 2012-2016 in presenting lectures, hosting visiting scholars and delegations, and providing consultation at Tianjin University and other member universities, funded through a grant from the State Department.
Li Li Ji, Ph.D., director of the School of Kinesiology, accepted the award. He says,
“We are truly honored to receive this inaugural award from the U.S. State Department. It is the result of years of dedicated and creative work done by over a dozen School of Kinesiology faculty and supporting staff, many who traveled to China to deliver the programs. TUS has shown tremendous commitment to support the ACC. We thank the U of M China Center and GPS Alliance for guidance and support and will continue to make the ACC a bridge for Sino-US cultural exchange.”
The award includes a $2500 prize to be used for ACC future programming.
Rayla Allison, J.D., sport management senior lecturer in the School of Kinesiology, was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram after the news that Baylor football coach Art Briles had ignored and covered up reports of sexual assaults and discrimination by members of his team for years. Briles was fired and Baylor University President Ken Starr has stepped down.
“Some high-profile cases — many rape cases — have come up lately across the nation where the universities didn’t react appropriately to prevent discrimination,” Allison said. “It’s not just Baylor. It’s not just athletes. And it’s not just male athletes or students who are involved.”
Justin Geijer, Ph.D., (Ph.D., 2015) an assistant professor at Winona State University, is the lead author of an article recently published in Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. The article, “Reproducibility of brachial vascular changes with alterations in end-tidal carbon dioxide,” examined the reproducibility of using carbon dioxide to alter diameter in the brachial artery. The results of this study suggest that carbon dioxide can alter the diameter of the brachial artery, but it is not reproducible enough to use this method to examine vascular health.
Chelsey Thul, Ph.D., lecturer in the School of Kinesiology, presented an MN-KPAH (Minnesota Knowledge to Practice in Adolescent Health; PI: Dr. Lyn Bearinger, Nursing) sponsored webinar to an interdisciplinary maternal and child health audience on May 26th. Dr. Thul’s webinar, “Co-Developing Physical Activity Opportunities with East African Adolescent Girls: Listening, Living it, and Lessons Learned,” focused on three community-based, youth engaged research projects aimed at understanding, developing, and sustaining long-term culturally relevant physical activity programming and opportunities with East African adolescent girls. Dr. Thul highlighted the value in listening, living it, and lessons learned throughout her presentation.
MN-KPAHaims to advance the knowledge/skills of practicing MCH professionals by enhancing their capacity to respond to common and emerging health needs of young people, at individual and population levels. MN-KPAH uses continuing education modalities to improve the practice capabilities of the interprofessional MCH workforce setting ranging from primary care to public health.
Yawen Yu, Kinesiology Ph.D. (2011), recently was awarded a 2-year fellowship by Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia to study “Vestibular function and contribution in children with cerebral palsy.” Dr. Yu’s advisor was Thomas Stoffregen, Ph.D., professor and director of the School of Kinesiology’s Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory.
Zachary Pope, Ph.D. student in the School of Kinesiology and graduate assistant within the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, recently had his ongoing grant-funded research highlighted by the University of Minnesota Graduate School with his research featured as the main story within The Graduate School’s Synthesist on May 3rd. The article talks not only of Pope’s ongoing research, but also addresses what research means to him and what drives him to make an impact through the work he is doing.