Current Community Engagement Fellows

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2017 Community Engagement Fellowships

sonny kellyThe My Life Matters Trauma-Informed Performance-Based Youth Participatory Research Project
Sonny Kelly – Communication
Faculty mentor: Reneé Alexander Craft
Community partner: Shauna Hopkins, coordinator, Find-A-Friend

This project is a partnership with Fayetteville Urban Ministry’s Find-A-Friend youth program to provide artistic enrichment and facilitate programmatic intervention and performance-based activism toward positive life choices and social justice advocacy among marginalized and under-served youth in Cumberland County, North Carolina. The project began in 2016 and will continue indefinitely. It seeks to connect with 50 to 100 youth, their families, program staff, volunteers and community stakeholders in a collaborative process of critical consciousness building and arts-based intervention and activism, community conversations about how the community may collectively address the school-to-prison pipeline and collaboratively seek local solutions. This project mobilizes artistic performance-based forms of expression to prepare and empower youth to act as advocates and activists on behalf of themselves and their communities. The final research products include ethnographic oral histories, community performance, exhibition of photography (photovoice method) and community forums. The project will add to our understanding of the local causes, effects and possible solutions to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Sugandh guptaAn Ethnography of Young Adults’ Culturally-Informed Lived Experiences of Mental Health in Jammu, India
Sugandh Gupta – Anthropology
Faculty mentor: Jocelyn Lim Chua
Community partners: Jammu University and local NGOs and community health professionals

This project involves two months of ethnographic fieldwork with young adults receiving mental health services in Jammu, India to explore culturally-informed lived experiences of mental health. The clinical definition is not used for the term ‘mental health’ and associated methods to assess and treat it are not used. Instead, an alternative term will be developed that more aptly captures informants’ everyday mental health experiences. The project’s objectives are to understand how young adults comprehend and make sense of mental health, to evaluate how their daily experiences of instability are shaped by government policies, and to examine how youths’ aspirations for the future are constrained and shaped by regional political violence and unrest. Working with community partners, focus groups and interviews will explore mental health-related challenges and consequences for youth living in proximity to ongoing political violence in neighboring Kashmir. Work will be done in partnership with Jammu University and local non-governmental organizations and community health professionals, all of which have deep roots in the local community. The project will facilitate continuity between fieldwork experiences and coursework, producing knowledge about the everyday mental health experience of youth while also contributing to the negligible, but growing literature on the everyday mental health of youth in Jammu.

amanda koteyHealthy Girls Save the World: Improving Health Outcomes for Low-Income African American Girls
Amanda Kotey – Health Behavior
Faculty mentor: Carol Golin
Community partner: Camille McGirt, director, Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW)

This project will improve health outcomes for low-income African-American middle school girls in North Carolina. Work will be done in partnership with Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW), a nonprofit organization that provides preventive health education for girls through summer camps and afterschool programs. HGSW’s mission is to empower girls to make healthy life choices by providing education and training on proper nutrition and the benefits of physical activity and healthy lifestyles. The project has two components. The first is to evaluate existing HGSW programming by conducting focus groups and surveys with 50 HGSW participants, parents and counselors during the 2017 summer experience. The second is to survey and conduct in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators at two Title I middle schools to better understand the barriers and facilitators to providing efficacious and engaging after-school programs for low-income youth. Evaluation data will be used to improve future programming and outreach efforts.

Shaughnessy and RemmlerImages and Voices of Snow Hill: Using Photovoice to Understand Environmental Justice in Sampson County, North Carolina
Sarah Shaughnessy – Health Behavior and City and Regional Planning
Shelby Rimmler – Health Behavior
Faculty mentor: Courtney Woods
Community partner: Naeema Muhammad, co-director, North Carolina Environmental Justice Network

As the second largest pork producer in the United States, the hog industry remains integral to North Carolina’s economy. The majority of North Carolina’s hogs are raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which produce a host of persistent problems that threaten the social, economic and physical health of the communities they inhabit. In North Carolina, CAFOs are densely clustered in low-income communities and communities in the state’s eastern coastal plain that have residents of color, where corporations are lured by pro-business tax incentives, lax environmental regulations, minimal oversight and little pushback from community residents. The Snow Hill community, a predominately African-American community in Sampson County, typifies this pattern.

Not only is Snow Hill situated in one of the densest concentrations of industrial hog operations, the community also hosts an active regional landfill which draws in approximately 5,400 tons of waste daily from municipalities across the state, including Chapel Hill. Snow Hill is also slated to be in the trajectory of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

This project uses photovoice, a community-based participatory research method, to document the environmental justice concerns of Snow Hill community residents and help build their capacity to address those concerns.

jessica soldaviniAn Evaluation of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Food for the Summer program
Jessica Soldavini – Nutrition
Faculty mentor: Maureen Berner
Community Partner: Kristin Lavergne, Community Services Director, Inter-Faith Council for Social Service

Food for the Summer provides free meals and enrichment activities for children up to 18 years old who live in low-income areas in Chapel Hill and Carrboro during the summer when school is out. Last summer, the program used an innovative model to serve more than 48,000 meals. This project will evaluate of the Food for the Summer program in partnership with an evaluation subcommittee. Teen ambassadors from the neighborhoods served by Food for the Summer will also be engaged in the project. Evaluation methods include analyzing Summer Food Service program data; developing tracking systems for activities; and conducting surveys, interviews and/or focus groups with program participants and other key stakeholders. Evaluation results will be used to identify program outcomes and successes, determine which program components are most successful and identify areas of improvement. Results will also help secure future funding and inform a sustainability. Evaluation results will be shared with other communities to help inform Summer Nutrition Program efforts across the state and country.

sallie nowellAssessing the Efficacy of the TEACCH GoriLLA Group Intervention
Sallie Nowell – Allied Health Sciences, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Faculty mentor: Linda R. Watson
Community partner: TEACCH GoriLLA Group

Many children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have average cognitive abilities yet adult outcomes are poor compared to typically developing peers Social-communication and self-regulation are skill areas in which children with ASD struggle and are related to adult outcomes. Social communication deficits in ASD have been shown to be correlated with anxiety and depression and affect social inclusion outcomes in adulthood, including friendships and employment Likewise, self-regulation deficits in ASD have been shown to negatively impact engagement in academic and social settings in children and are correlated with self-reports of low quality of life. However, some group interventions targeting social-communication or self-regulation skills have demonstrated efficacy for children who have ASD. Yet the impact of such interventions as provided through community agencies has not been examined. This study attempts to address deficit. Work will be done in partnership with the TEACCH Autism Program to conduct a preliminary efficacy study of its Growing Living and Learning with Autism (GoriLLA) Group intervention. In addition to these services being provided within a community agency, GoriLLA interventions uniquely target both self-regulation and social-communication in children who have ASD. Since TEACCH has seven centers, results from the proposed efficacy study may have direct implications for the services provided to children in North Carolina who have ASD.

sarah davisAddressing Racial Disparities in School Discipline: A Community-Engaged Research Partnership
Sarah Davis – Sociology
Faculty mentor: Kate Weissharr
Community partner: Bryan Joffe, project director, AASA, the School Superintendents Association

Research consistently shows patterns of racial disparity in school discipline that privilege white students while black students face disadvantages. For example, in 2012, one in six black students across the country were at risk of suspension while only one in 20 white students faced this risk. There is presently no clear understanding as to how this disparity is perpetuated, nor how to dismantle this form of racial inequity. In partnership with AASA, the School Superintendents Association, experimental research will be conducted to investigate the school-level factors that lead to differing discipline outcomes for white and black students. Both the association and I are committed to addressing racial disparities in schooling and hope that through collaborative research we will uncover new understandings of the mechanisms that generate this inequality, thereby allowing for new solutions that promote equitable access to high-quality education for all children.