Previous Community Engagement Fellowship Recipients

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2018 Community Engagement Fellowships

Exploring Parent Perceptions of Implementing an Early Intervention for their Toddlers with Autism
Jessica Amsbary, Applied Developmental Sciences and Special Education
Faculty mentor: Harriet Able
Community partner: Lauren Turner-Brown, Ph.D., TEACCH

This project will obtain parent perspectives of implementing a community-based early intervention designed for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to ensure that parents perceive the intervention as family-friendly and usable. Parents will participate in interviews focused on perceived challenges and successes in their abilities to implement the intervention as part of their daily routines and activities. Information obtained will be coded and analyzed to determine themes relating to (a) intervention components that parents perceive as leading to successes or challenges, (b) coaching processes that parents perceive as leading to successes or challenges, and (c) contexts that parents perceive as enabling or not enabling them to implement the intervention throughout their daily routines and activities. It is hoped that findings will reveal ways in which early interventions may be more easily implemented by parents and families of young children with ASD.

Creating Abundant Futures: A Photovoice Study on Chinese Transgender Women’s Economic Context
Willa Dong, Health Behavior
Faculty mentor: Kathryn Muessig
Community partner: Shenyang Consultation Centre of AIDS Aid and Health Service

Economic exclusion arising from high levels of societal stigma and discrimination is hypothesized to constrain transgender women’s life choices and increase risk for outcomes such as HIV (Poteat et al., 2015). Despite high levels of stigma documented against transgender women in China (see Asia Catalyst, 2015 and Yang et al., 2015), little is known about this context or transgender women’s resilience strategies for dealing with economic exclusion. This photovoice project aims to 1) describe this context and the impact on Chinese transgender women’s health to generate action to address these issues, 2) contribute to building community capacity for research and action, and 3) contribute to the scientific evidence base to lay the groundwork for continued work on transgender health in China.

Identity, Citizenship and Access to Opportunities for Young Women in Hyderabad, India
Pallavi Gupta, Geography
Faculty mentor: Sara Smith
Community partner: Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association

This project will examine how identities and access to opportunities are closely interlinked among marginalized communities living in Hyderabad. I wish to understand how the ideas of citizenship and marginalization play out in urban spaces. By interviewing young women 19-35 years old and by working closely with community-based organizations like Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association, I aim to interrogate the interface between identity and access to opportunity. While studies on marginalized communities in India focus on discrimination, the question of identity and its relationship to young women’s everyday experiences remains to be explored. My research focuses on the everyday experiences of young women from marginalized communities. A deep chasm exists between the vision laid out in the Constitution for an inclusive, egalitarian state and the reality on the ground, characterized by acute and brazen forms of discrimination experienced by marginalized communities like Dalits and minority communities like Muslims. I will work with Shaheen to develop research questions on how identity and everyday practices define citizenship for the marginalized.

Understanding Perinatal Health Experiences Among American Indian Women in Robeson County, North Carolina
Katherine Lemasters, Maternal and Child Health and Epidemiology
Faculty mentor: Sarah Bledsoe and Alexandra Lightfoot
Community partner: Dr. Ronny Bell, North Carolina American Indian Health Board

This project aims to understand and strengthen the perinatal health and well-being of American Indians in the Lumbee tribal community in Robeson County, North Carolina (hereafter referred to as ‘the community’). Building on our formative work, we will address three aims. First, we will continue building a community advisory board (CAB) to support and guide this project. Second, we will build our understanding of how the community experiences the perinatal period and what their perinatal health concerns are. To do this, we will identify community participants (i.e., mothers, grandmothers) with the guidance of the CAB and will use photovoice as our participatory methodology. Third, we will collaboratively develop action steps to address the community’s identified perinatal health needs. We will host a community forum via a talking circle where our research team of participants, the CAB, and university-based investigators will display the photographs and discuss the photovoice project findings. Ideas generated during the forum will be used to collaboratively formulate action steps for an intervention to achieve perinatal health equity.

Muslim Histories of New York: A Video Archive Project in Harlem
Katherine Merriman, Religious Studies and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Faculty mentor: Juliane Hammer
Community Partner: Zaheer Ali, Brooklyn Historical Society

New York City is a major hub of global Islamic history, and Harlem is particularly representative of this rich heritage through stories of multiracial struggle, artistic production and religious growth among several diverse Muslim communities. I seek to expand the reach and aims of my public scholarship project to create a video archive. In conversation with Muslim community partners, and with guidance from the Oral Historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society, I will produce eight video interviews with diverse Muslims in the neighborhood that will be made public on an online archive and at a panel event. The videos will be an educational source for city residents and outsiders to learn more about Islam in New York, and will document the contributions and valuable perspectives of Muslim New Yorkers. The videos will benefit Harlemite Muslims by archiving their communal religious history that is constantly under threat due to out migration, gentrification or being lost from memory.

Key Formative Work for Integration of Depression Management in HIV and Substance Use Care in Vietnam
Xuan Binh Minh Nguyen, Health Behavior
Faculty mentor: Vivian Go
Community partner: Hanoi Center of Preventive Medicine, Hanoi, Vietnam

HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) is above 30 percent in Vietnam, and there is an urgent need to increase the reach and effectiveness of HIV treatment programs in this population. PWID also have high rates of common mental disorders (CMD), including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment for these conditions substantially improves PWID’s ability to manage both their addiction and HIV. Effective integration of resource-appropriate, scalable CMD care into existing HIV and methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programs will be critical to enhance the engagement and ensure the long-term health of PWID with HIV in Vietnam. Our long-term goal is to integrate and scale up effective CMD treatment models to improve mental health, substance use and HIV outcomes for PWID with HIV in Vietnam. The objective of this pilot is to conduct formative research that will lay the groundwork for a competitive NIH R34 proposal to pilot-test the integration of a task-shifting CMD intervention into existing HIV/MMT care in Vietnam.

Square One: A Novel, Multidisciplinary, Healthcare Delivery Model for Tattoo Removal
Emily O’Mara, Medicine and Public Health
Alex Miles, Medicine and Public Health
Faculty mentor: Richard Hobbs
Community partner: Jo Martin, Tattoo Removal Ink

Square One is a free, mobile tattoo removal service for those currently and formerly incarcerated and gang-involved. Through this service, we support individuals’ efforts to reintegrate as productive members of their communities. We are purchasing a laser and a van fit with the necessary equipment to provide mobile treatment at partner clinical sites. Our service will be provided by medical students, residents, and attending physicians who have completed the requisite tattoo removal training. To meet ongoing patient care needs, a nonprofit, charitable fund will be created through the UNC Medical Foundation. As tattoo removal is typically non-revenue-generating, fundraising led by the medical student groups will offset the cost of these individual procedures and expand the volume of patients treated.

Music and History-telling at the Global Scholars Academy
Sarah Tomlinson, Music
Faculty mentor: Cherie Rivers Ndaliko
Community partner: Jason Jowers, Global Scholars Academy

This project proposes new strategies for introducing young people to music in ways that recognize the importance of all cultures, including their own. In most music education classrooms for elementary school students, “music history” is limited to listening to a few pieces of classical music. This project attempts to introduce young people to music in more inclusive and culturally-empowering ways by sharing stories of race, class, and gender diversity in multiple genres of music, including classical music, which is often represented as elitist and exclusive. This collaboration with the Global Scholars Academy, a K-8 public charter school in Durham, will make two existing programs more robust and sustainable: the Music and Storytelling Program for K-2 students that pairs biographical picture books about musicians with music performance activities, and the Musical Detectives Program for 3-5 students where students evaluate music materials designed for young people from the past and present through vocal and instrumental performance and concert field trips. This fellowship also allows us to develop curricular resources that will be usable for teachers and music historians across various educational contexts.

2017 Community Engagement Fellowships

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

This project was 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. This project mobilized 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 included ethnographic oral histories, community performance, photography exhibition (photovoice method) and community forums.

An 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 involved 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 for ‘mental health’ and associated methods to assess and treat it were not used. Instead, an alternative term was developed that more aptly captures informants’ everyday mental health experiences. The project’s objectives were 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 explored mental health-related challenges and consequences for youth living close to ongoing political violence in neighboring Kashmir. Work was completed in partnership with Jammu University, local non-governmental organizations and community health professionals.

Healthy 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, Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW)

This project attempted to improve health outcomes for low-income African-American middle school girls in North Carolina. Work was 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 the benefits of healthy lifestyles. The project evaluated existing HGSW programming through focus groups and surveys with 50 HGSW participants, parents and counselors during the 2017 summer experience and then surveyed and interviewed teachers and administrators at two Title I middle schools to better understand the barriers and facilitators to providing efficacious after-school programs for low-income youth. Evaluation data was used to improve future programming and outreach efforts.

Images 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, 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 and is also slated to be in the trajectory of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This project used photovoice, a community-based participatory research method, to document the environmental justice concerns of Snow Hill community residents and helped build their capacity to address them.

An 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 evaluated the Food for the Summer program with help from teen ambassadors from the neighborhoods served by the program. Evaluation methods included 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 were used to identify program outcomes and successes, determine which program components were most successful and identify areas of improvement. Results also helped secure future funding and inform sustainability. Evaluation results were shared with other communities to help inform Summer Nutrition Program efforts across the state and country.

Assessing 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, especially in the skill areas of social-communication and self-regulation, are poor compared to typically developing peers. Social communication deficits in ASD are typically 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. Some group interventions targeting social-communication or self-regulation skills have demonstrated efficacy for children who have ASD, yet the impact of such interventions had not been examined. This study attempted to address these deficits. Work was 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 that uniquely targets 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.

Addressing Racial Disparities in School Discipline: A Community-Engaged Research Partnership
Sarah Davis, Sociology
Faculty mentor: Kate Weissharr
Community partner: Bryan Joffe, AASA, School Superintendents Association

Research consistently shows patterns of racial disparity in school discipline that privilege white students and disadvantage black students. For example, in 2012, one in six black students across the country were at risk of suspension while only one in 20 white students were. 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 was conducted to investigate the school-level factors that lead to differing discipline outcomes for white and black students in hopes of uncovering new understandings of the mechanisms that generate this inequality and thereby allowing for new solutions that promote equitable access to high-quality education for all children.