Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, presented October 30 at the Academic Health Center’s Mini Medical School as part of their Fall 2017 series, “Medical Mysteries: Navigating Complex Health Cases.” His presentation with George S. Goding, Jr., M.D., professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, was titled “Finding a new treatment for the incurable voice disorder Spasmodic Dysphonia.” Konczak and Goding have been working with colleagues from Speech and Hearing Sciences and Engineering on a new treatment approach to improve the voice symptoms of patients with this voice disorder. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, though patients can get temporary relief through Botulinum toxin injections.
Comments from attendees after the presentation included:
This work gives me so much hope – what an interesting study! Very interesting topic, more education on these topics is necessary so I am glad I was able to hear this presentation. Appreciated the presentation from both Dr’s because of the overlap! Nicely simplified from complex information. Nice to hear U of M people are working together to make life better for those in need. Loved the comment about calling around the U to find experts to help solve problems. There is so much happening at the U of M!!
Mini Medical School is a five-week program offered each semester that is designed to give individuals with a shared interest in health sciences the opportunity to examine the scientific foundations of health and disease presented by internationally renowned U of M experts who are shaping the way health care is delivered locally and globally.
Daheia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Behavioral Physical Activity Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, will participate in the event “Pathways to Self-Care and Wellness for Empowering Girls and Women from Indigenous Communities and Communities of Color” Saturday, September 30, 9 a.m. to noon at the Walker Community United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. Barr-Anderson will serve as moderator for the panel discussion on strategies to empower these female communities. She will also lead movement activities.
The event is free and open to the public. Complete details are available here.
On June 20 and 21, roughly 500 of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations gathered at Educational Equity in Action II. This was the second convening hosted by the University of Minnesota. Its focus: improving educational equity by “Working across schools and communities to enhance social emotional learning.”
Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model,explained that trauma from oppression, like that experienced by the American Indian community, can span generations.
“Our culture is plagued by intergenerational trauma,” said Brokenleg, whose mother’s family was among those imprisoned at Fort Snelling. He cited the incredibly high suicide rate among Native people, especially in the 18-30 age group, and among people in Ireland and Scotland after generations of oppression by the British, whose methods not coincidentally were adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “We’ve had a normal human reaction to an abnormal history.”
Brokenleg described his Circle of Courage model which supports character building or “teaching the heart” through generosity, belonging, independence, and mastery. Brokenleg finished his talk with practical strategies from Circle of Courage attendees could take back to their schools and communities to help young people—especially those suffering from intergenerational trauma—learn and grow.
Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center and the covening, led a plenary discussion on the results of the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).
Rodriguez explained, although at a high-level the MSS tells a positive story about the developmental skills and supports of Minnesota youth, a closer look at the data demonstrates the reality of the inequities some students experience in Minnesota’s education system. This is particularly apparent for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); students who skip school; students who receive disciplinary action in school; and students who have experienced trauma.
“Ninety-nine percent of our youth say their goal is to graduate from high school—and 65 to 85 percent across demographic groups also want to go to college,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a lot higher than our state’s high school graduation goal for them, which is now about 90 percent by 2020!”
He emphasized that students’ own goals are higher than those we’ve set as a state.
Following the plenary, students in Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) led detailed discussions on the MSS results for some of these groups, including: American Indian students, Hmong students, students in special education, LGB students, and students experiencing trauma.
Throughout the convening, participants selected from 28 smaller group breakout sessions on social-emotional learning led by University of Minnesota researchers, youth engagement groups, school districts, the Minneapolis Department of Education, and more. Several sessions included youth as presenters and/or focused on youth participatory action research projects.
Small group discussions
Before the final keynote, attendees participated in a process called TRIZ. They met in small groups—dividing themselves up based on the different developmental skills and supports students need to be successful (identified in Rodriguez’s work). Participants started with the unusual task of listing actions communities might take to destroy the skill being discussed in youth. Then, they shared opportunities they had to remove some of these destructive activities and developed action plans for their schools, communities, and organizations.
Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, associate professor in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, closed out the convening by challenging the group to practice culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL). He asked that school leaders promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students by focusing on the perspectives of parents, students, and community members.
“Change in schools can be promoted and fostered by ‘leaders,’ but culturally responsive school leadership is practiced by all stakeholders,” said Khalifa. “Community-based based knowledge informs good leadership practice.”
In this statement, Khalifa connected his keynote to Rodriguez’ and Brokenleg’s work. Each of the speakers stressed the importance of listening to all members of our community to improve educational equity.
Khalifa ended his talk by sharing strategies to help attendees to achieve CRSL in their own schools, organizations, and communities.
Ms. Ziyi Wang, participant in the 2016-17 China Champions Program (CCP) and World Champion in sailboating, spent the afternoon of May 3 enjoying her sport at the Minnetonka Yacht Club. As a bonus, she had the chance to meet and sail with U.S. National and Olympic sailing coach Gordy Bowers, who is currently head coach of the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, and Peter Wattson, president of the Minnetonka Yacht Club.
Ms. Wang was accompanied by Ms. Chunlu Wang, Olympic gold medalist in short track speed skating, and Ms. Jill Griffiths, a member of the CCP advisory board. The group also spent time sailing and interacting with high school students from the sailing school.
The China Champions Program is sponsored by the University’s School of Kinesiology, the College of Education and Human Development and the China Center.
“Jennifer is highly deserving of the award,” says Department of Educational Psychology chair, Geoffrey Maruyama. “She has worked over the past decade in Minneapolis Public Schools, first in North Minneapolis, then with Anishinabe Academy, and recently, she added tele-health research to connect with rural communities,” says Maruyama. “These and other projects reflect her deep commitment to engaged research and to doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Please join us in congratulating Professor McComas on this tremendous accomplishment!
Graduate assistant Chris Moore, advised byYuhei Inoue, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology presented research results to study participants at the Minnetonka Senior Services.
This research study titled “The Influence of Sport Team Identification on Mental Health for Older Adults” was funded by Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant. For this study, Moore and Inoue worked with Minnetonka Senior Services to recruit older adults and coordinated trips to three home games of University of Minnesota Women’s volleyball team. The purpose of the project was to examine if attending sporting events and establishing a sense of connections with the sport team and its fans may help enhance older adults’ social relationships and well-being.
Under the leadership of Tony Brown, Ph.D., Recreation Administration instructor in the School of Kinesiology and associate director of the Department of Recreational Sports, students participated in this year’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP), working with the City of Brooklyn Park. The students enrolled in the Recreation Administration major applied their knowledge and skills to a real-world project with a community partner. They worked with the City’s in its effort to address nature-based recreation opportunities and equitable use of athletic fields.
The RCP is an organization dedicated to connecting communities in Minnesota with diverse expertise of University of Minnesota faculty and students to address pressing local issues in ways that advance sustainability and resilience.