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National Youth Sports Program provides positive, safe environment for at-risk kids

So many smiles, so much laughter, such determination — it’s easy to see local kids love The University of Toledo’s National Youth Sports Program (NYSP).

And they’re happy to talk about the summer camp that offers sports instruction and educational enrichment.

A camper soared through the air during the long jump on the track.

“Swimming and track are my favorites at NYSP,” Delmar Lightner, 13, said. “Swimming because of the diving board, and track because of the long jump.”

“I love the kids in my group who are nice,” Qarinn Hopings, 10, said. “The counselors are helpful and nice, too.”

“I like NYSP because I like track, and I get better and better every year,” Amarion Jordan, 12, said.

“I love NYSP because of basketball, the new drills, and because we won the championship game,” Miracle Buchanon, 15, said and beamed.

“What I like about NYSP are the different events — the talent show, going fishing, swimming and pool party, and ice cream,” Ariahnna Webb-Bragg, 11, said.

Approximately 150 Toledo youths attended the program this year.

“We offer a safe and nurturing environment for children ages 9 to 16 to enjoy a variety of age-appropriate recreational and educational activities such as swimming, track, giant foosball, origami making, fishing, soccer, basketball, parachute games, theme days and more,” said Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, professor and chair in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, and NYSP director. “Many children do not have the opportunity to attend other programs or activities in the city, and our program on campus provides bus service, a free hot lunch, a free medical physical, a free T-shirt, and mentorship from adults from the community and campus, UT student-athletes and UT recreation therapy majors who enjoy working with children.”

UT football player Nate Jeppesen, a counselor with the National Youth Sports Program, petted a giraffe during a field trip to Indian Creek Petting Zoo in Lambertville, Mich.

Starting in 1968, UT was one of the first universities in the country to offer the federally funded program sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Kucharewski said even after federal funding for the program was cut, UT continued to operate the camp through fundraising, in-kind donations, and commitment from the University to provide some funding and facilities.

This summer, youths enjoyed a wide variety of enriching activities, including the Hometown Heroes series, which brought in local speakers. UT Women’s Basketball Coach Tricia Cullop; Toledo fire fighters; Jordan Strack, WTOL sports and news broadcaster; and Scott High School Principal Carnell Smith talked to the campers.

Children attending UT’s National Youth Sports Program fed goats during a field trip to Indian Creek Petting Zoo in Lambertville, Mich.

“The first week went better than I could have imagined. Seeing the campers enjoy the activities planned and connecting with their group leaders is an amazing experience. The kids truly look forward to coming to camp each day,” said Claire Copa, project liaison for NYSP. “The camp finished up strong this year with several other activities — a talent show, pool party, and field trips to Indian Creek Petting Zoo and Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs at Olander Park.”

Copa cited recreational therapy as one of her favorite parts of the NYSP experience, since many of the campers would not have access to it otherwise. She spoke about the importance of teaching children not only how to be physically healthy, but to develop emotional health as well.

For more information on NYSP, visit utoledo.edu/hhs/clinics/nysp.

To give a gift to the National Youth Sports Program Fund, contact the UT Foundation at 419.530.7730 or go to give2ut.utoledo.edu and search for NYSP.

UT President Sharon L. Gaber, right, posed for a photo with this year’s National Youth Sports Program participants and counselors.

Fellows selected for new conference leadership initiative

Three UT faculty members have been named fellows to participate in the new Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program.

The program was created to foster preparation and advancement of future academic leaders through working with MAC administrators and colleagues.

Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said, “The University of Toledo is excited to join the Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program, and we are happy to announce the fellows from our institution who will benefit from this tremendous opportunity.”

Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year are:

• Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor of geography and planning, and associate dean of social and behavioral sciences in the College of Arts and Letters;

• Holly Monsos, professor of theatre and associate dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts in the College of Arts and Letters; and

• Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health in the School of Population Health in the College of Health and Human Services; faculty fellow in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; and 2017-18 president of Faculty Senate.

All tenured faculty with experience in administrative leadership and service were eligible to apply for the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program. Candidates needed to submit a letter of support from their dean, as well as an application and curriculum vitae for consideration.

“Our fellows will participate in a development program with UT leaders to gain valuable insight and experience,” Hsu said. “In addition, they will work with MAC school administrators and peers to better understand how universities operate.”

All MAC Academic Leadership Development Program fellows will attend one three-day workshop each semester. Topics to be addressed include conflict resolution, budgeting, accreditation and accountability.

“Thanks to this program, our fellows will see firsthand the challenges and rewards of institutional service as they prepare for potential leadership positions,” Hsu said.

Read more about the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program at utoledo.edu/offices/provost/MAC-ALDP.html.

UT class to investigate mock crime scene at park May 23

Consider it CSI: UT.

University of Toledo students studying criminal justice and paralegal studies will get a dose of reality as part of a pioneering summer course titled Criminal Forensics and Trial Practice.

It’s a collaboration between the Paralegal Studies and Criminal Justice programs in the College of Health and Human Services.

Students are placed on prosecuting and defense teams and assigned as crime scene investigators, paralegals and attorneys. They are responsible for investigating a mock homicide, indicting a suspect, and conducting a trial.

The exercise will begin with a fake crime scene at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 23, at the southwest corner of Wildwood Preserve Metropark near the maintenance building. Sixteen undergraduate students plan to spend up to 10 hours at the site.

The students will test their knowledge of forensic principles, such as securing a crime scene, photographing and collecting evidence, blood spatter analysis, and interrogation, with the guidance of John Schlageter, director of the UT Paralegal Studies Program and a former attorney who practiced in Ohio and Michigan, and Andrew Dier, director of the UT Criminal Justice Program and a retired UT police officer.

“This is an opportunity for students to step out of the traditional classroom setting and practice hands-on skills that they will use in their careers,” Schlageter said.

A mock jury trial will be held Thursday, June 22, in the McQuade Courtroom located inside the Health and Human Services Building.

At the trial, students will use their knowledge of trial procedure, including the preparation and examination of trial witnesses, how to make a closing argument, and rules of evidence.

“Following proper procedure from the very beginning at the crime scene could be the deciding factor in a guilty verdict from a jury,” Dier said. “This is practical training to put the students in real situations and force them to make mistakes here because in the real world of law enforcement, we get one shot to do it right, one bite of the apple.”

UTMC nurse named ‘Champion for Children’

Katie Bush, a sexual assault nurse examiner at UT Medical Center, recently received another award for her dedication to helping those in need.

Bush received the Cullen Champion for Children Award at the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center’s spring luncheon. The award honors those who show an outstanding commitment to the well-being of children and families, tireless advocacy, and a pioneer spirit. It is named for Dr. Bernard J. Cullen, a Toledo pediatrician who worked on behalf of abused children.

Katie Bush, a sexual assault nurse examiner at UT Medical Center, left, received the Cullen Champion for Children Award from Dr. Christie Jenkins, CEO of the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center.

“I feel very blessed that my name was even considered for this award,” Bush said. “There are so many people doing wonderful things in this community for children and families living with violence as their daily norm, and if I have positively impacted even one child, then it’s all worth it.”

Bush acknowledged the difficult nature of her work: “There is no doubt about it, working with this population is hard. It’s sad and frustrating at times, and there are not always good outcomes. Being immersed in this part of the world can be dark, so this award shines that light and reinforces that I’ve kept going for a reason.”

She earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice at the University, where she worked with victims of crime. After becoming a registered nurse, the UT alumna made it her goal to become a forensic nurse at the encouragement of one of her advisers.

“I wish I could explain where the passion comes from to work with this patient population,” Bush said. “I truly believe it’s just inherently there for me, to be the advocate for the broken, for the victim or patient that just needs someone to be 100 percent on their side and supportive no matter what the circumstances. I’ve been lucky enough to live my life violence-free, but that’s not the case for so many families in our community, and I’m happy to be the person willing to help them in any way possible.”

In addition to this award, Bush received a Liberator Award in 2016, which recognizes locals fighting human trafficking, as well as a 2013 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award.

She also was the primary author of the national Emergency Nurses Association position statement on Human Trafficking Patient Awareness in the Emergency Setting. This statement was created to educate emergency nurses throughout the country on their essential role in identifying trafficking victims.

For those who wished to get involved with the various causes that she supports, Bush cited volunteering as the best way to both help and educate oneself simultaneously.

“I volunteered for 10 years with the Lucas County Crisis Response Team,” she said. “I went to homes and hospitals at police request to provide immediate crisis intervention to victims seeking help. There are so many programs out there that need help. From our own Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, to rape crisis, the battered women’s shelter and [court-appointed special advocates], there are plenty of opportunities to donate time and learn what the needs are within our own backyard.”

On advice for young nurses, Bush cited the importance of knowledge on different types of abuse: “Seek education on topics such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. I assure you, no matter what type of nurse you become, this population is among those you will care for. Understanding the dynamics they live within goes a long way to increase positive patient interaction; you may actually be the only person they can trust or turn to. They may not want your help, but offer it anyhow. Reserve judgments and keep the door open for them to feel safe no matter how many times they may walk away. And if you identify a need, know your resources. Connect them to services and call a social worker or a sexual assault nurse examiner.”

Bush’s passion for her work shines through her tireless efforts to provide survivors and their families with appropriate care. Her work has not gone unnoticed by her peers.

“I’m proud to have received an award in honor of Dr. Cullen, because in no way do I believe I’ve impacted our profession on his level,” Bush said. “It creates a goal for me, to continue improving lives of people who deserve better than the violence they live within. That was part of Dr. Cullen’s mission, and I couldn’t be more proud to be among the past recipients of this award.”

UT researchers investigate racial disparities in end-of-life planning

A national study by University of Toledo researchers shows 75 percent of adults in the U.S. have not completed end-of-life planning.

Only 18 percent of Hispanic and 8 percent of African-American respondents had a living will, durable power of attorney, or talked with family members and loved ones about their wishes, in contrast to 33 percent of whites.

The UT research study titled “Predicting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Advance Care Planning Using the Integrated Behavioral Model,” which also investigates reasons behind the racial and ethnic gap, was recently published in OMEGA: The Journal of Death and Dying.

Jordan

“We don’t like to talk about our mortality,” Dr. Timothy Jordan, professor in UT’s School of Population Health in the College of Health and Human Services, said. “But the minute we’re born, we begin the dying process.”

Jordan cites the case of Terri Schiavo, a 26-year-old Florida woman whose death more than 12 years ago still resonates.

After suffering cardiac arrest in 1990, Schiavo was the focus of a contentious, seven-year fight that pitted her parents — and many right-to-life advocates — against her husband, Michael, who vowed to remove her from artificial life support based on her previously spoken wishes.

Jordan said the lack of hard copy documentation of Terri Schiavo’s wishes propelled her case into a slew of legal machinations that twisted through the Florida governor’s office, to the U.S. Senate floor and, ultimately, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Without clear documentation of one’s end-of-life wishes, Jordan said, the battle that fueled the “what would Terri want” argument could erupt any time, with anyone at its epicenter.

“We live in a society that’s death-denying,” Jordan said, noting that current funeral practices beautify corpses with makeup and hair-styling, and use carpets of artificial grass to hide the freshly dug gravesite holding the deceased’s casket. “We don’t like to talk about death because it reminds us that we’re mortal.”

Several studies, he said, have established that racial/ethnic minority adults are less likely than whites to complete advance care planning, also called end-of-life planning.

“The question is why,” Jordan said. “[Current research] has just reported that gap. No one has really explained why it occurs.”

McAfee

Jordan and then-UT doctoral student Dr. Colette McAfee, now an assistant professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, designed a study to investigate why African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to have three of the following advance care components completed:

• Living will;

• Durable power of attorney for health-care decisions; and

• Verbal discussion with family members and loved ones.

The three-component approach is significant. Most studies, Jordan said, consider advance care planning complete if one or two of the elements have been finalized.

The study sampled a random cross-section of 386 American adults between 40 and 80 years of age; 51 percent was female, with 49 percent male. The racial/ethnic makeup and geographical locations of respondents, Jordan noted, were nearly identical to the U.S. population.

Three in four respondents had not completed advance care planning as defined by the study.

“Hispanics were two times more likely than blacks and eight times more likely than whites to say they’d never even heard of end-of-life planning,” Jordan said. “That really shocked us.”

Even more noteworthy was the finding that just 30 percent of respondents’ advance care planning intentions was explained by the Integrative Behavioral Model — a well-accepted standard that helps researchers explain and predict behaviors.

“One of the key take-home points is that 70 percent of the decision to do complete end-of-life planning in the future was outside of our behavior model,” Jordan said. “We could only explain 30 percent of respondents’ behavioral intention, so what other factors were at work?”

He cites several speculations, including lack of awareness, computer access, knowledge of end-of-life documentation and accessibility, as well as language barriers. He and McAfee may address these issues in future studies.

When McAfee presented the research at the American Public Health Association annual meeting last fall, many researchers from across the country were interested in expanding it.

“Dr. Jordan and I are already working on a follow-up study with similar parameters, but in a younger population,” McAfee said, noting the target age range for respondents will be between 20 and 40. “We know that the younger the population, the less likely they are to give attention to advance care planning.”

Since Hispanics were the least likely to have a basic awareness of advance care planning, McAfee also intends to further explore cultural subsets, including Hispanics of Puerto Rican, Mexican and Cuban descent. Additional research may focus on Americans of Pacific-Islander and Asian origin.

McAfee taught courses on death and dying at UT and has initiated a similar class at Westminster College, where she works mostly with public health students. She and Jordan find it remarkable that a formal end-of-life curriculum is not required for all students in nursing, pre-medical and other clinical fields, considering most of these students will deal with patients’ life-threatening illnesses and death frequently during their careers.

“I think it’s extremely important,” McAfee said of exposing student populations, even those in high schools, to education regarding death and dying. “It’s a prime opportunity to bring up end-of-life issues. If you’re an oncologist or a health-care practitioner who deals with critical illnesses, you need to be able to communicate these issues with your patients or they won’t get the appropriate care.”

She and Jordan believe the general population is open to end-of-life discussions, but reticent to initiate them.

“Once you bring it up, most people are willing to discuss it,” McAfee said. “Primary care and family physicians, in particular, would provide a perfect atmosphere to intervene because they have longstanding relationships with their patients.”

If those conversations don’t take place, Jordan said people become aware of end-of-life issues when a close friend or family member becomes progressively ill or has a catastrophic situation.

“The only time you really think about it is when we have a big, national case that goes to the Supreme Court, like the Terri Schiavo case,” Jordan added. “But it’s something we need to think about and bring into the classroom, because how much more relevant can a class be?”

New organization allows students to train service dogs

Animal companions can have an astounding benefit to the health of their human owners. Decreased stress and lower blood pressure are often observed through interaction with animals.

For many, however, the relationship they have with their four-legged companion can be life-changing. Persons with disabilities make up one of the largest minorities in the United States, and many of those affected have a service animal to help with daily tasks.

Anna Jones, Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training manager, right, brought Penny, the dog on the right, and Potter, the puppy, to a Rocket Service Dogs meeting, where they met Summer Martin, graduate student in social work, left, and
Danielle Tscherne, graduate student in criminal justice and leader of the Rocket Service Dogs organization.

UT students now have the opportunity to learn more about the support these animals can provide through Rocket Service Dogs. The organization, which is partnered with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, encourages students to become puppy sitters and potential service dog trainers.

Dr. Janet Hoy, associate professor in the School of Social Justice and adviser for Rocket Service Dogs, said the idea for the organization came after visiting the Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence training center in Sylvania.

“Service dogs can tremendously increase independence and quality of life for a person living with a disability,” Hoy said. “Unfortunately, there is often a long wait list before a service dog can be obtained. Through providing foster placements and training, Rocket Service Dogs can increase the numbers of service and therapy dogs available to be placed with individuals living with disabilities in the region.”

Through the partnership with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence, students involved with Rocket Service Dogs will be provided with food, veterinary care and regular classes for their service dog trainees.

Hoy stressed the importance of regular training and socialization: “Service dog training would occur under the direction of an Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence trainer, and would entail attending regular classes and practicing in between to teach a service dog trainee basic commands and later more specialized tasks.

“Socialization of the service dog trainees in a wide variety of settings is also a key part of training; it is imperative that service dog trainees become comfortable out in public in places such as restaurants, stores, sport events, etc.,” she said. “Puppy sitters provide respite care and socialization for the service dog trainees when the primary caregiver/trainer is unable to do so.”

Those who feel they have time and love to give to a future service dog — and a strong interest in learning about dog behavior, human health and disability — are encouraged to reach out to Rocket Service Dogs.

More information on the organization, including upcoming meetings, can be found on its Facebook page, facebook.com/rocketservicedogs.

UT selected for national leadership project for student-athletes, coaches focused on sexual assault prevention

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded The University of Toledo approximately $10,000 worth of training and curriculum to participate in the Healthy Masculinity Campus Athletics Project.

UT is one of 14 colleges and universities across the country chosen for the initiative through the Office on Violence Against Women to positively engage male college athletes, coaches and athletic administrators as influential leaders in the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on college campuses and in their surrounding communities.

UT will send three representatives to an intensive three-day training at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., in July. The representatives will be from the UT Athletics Department and the UT Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness. Upon their return to campus, they will implement the curriculum through programming and practice.

“This is a great opportunity to further enhance our training and resources for our student-athletes so they can play a strong leading role in fostering a healthy, safe campus,” said Mike O’Brien, UT vice president and athletic director. “UT athletics continues to support sexual assault education and prevention. We work with UT’s Title IX Office and Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness to train our coaches, staff and student-athletes on an ongoing basis. We are very excited about this collaboration and what the new grant means for our student-athletes and entire University.”

“College athletes and coaches across the country are uniquely positioned to play a key role in creating a safer campus climate,” Dr. Kasey Tucker-Gail, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the UT Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness, said. “They can use their visibility to promote healthy relationships and advocate against sexual violence. We are honored to work with the Athletics Department and value their continued support.”

The 13 other colleges participating in the program are Wheaton College; St. Johns University; Utah State University; Juniata College; Upper Iowa University; Loyola University; College of Mt. Saint Vincent; Goucher College; University of Idaho; Doane University; Georgian Court University; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; and the College of New Jersey.

UT shines spotlight on child sex trafficking in U.S. with first Ohio screening of ‘I Am Jane Doe’

The University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute will host the first screening in Ohio of “I Am Jane Doe,” a documentary focusing on the fight against child sex trafficking online.

The free, public event will begin with a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in Doermann Theater.

“Most of the members of our community have now heard of human trafficking. What they don’t know about is the front-line battle being waged to fight the trafficking of children online,” said Dr. Celia Williamson, UT professor of social work and director of the UT Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. “’I Am Jane Doe’ is a powerful documentary about this fight.”

The 2017 film chronicles the battle waged by American mothers on behalf of the victims, their middle-school daughters. The film follows their efforts to stop sex-trafficking advertising on the webpage Backpage.com.

Panelists will be UT President Sharon L. Gaber, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Williamson.

“Backpage has knowingly facilitated the sex trafficking online of vulnerable women and underage girls and covered up the evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits,” said Portman, who serves as chairman of a Senate subcommittee that brought the issue to a hearing on Capitol Hill. “This documentary shines a spotlight on the brave victims and their families as they fight to expose the world of human trafficking through the dark side of the Internet.”

A reception will be at 6 p.m., discussion at 6:30 p.m., and screening at 7 p.m.

“As a mother, this film is gut-wrenching to watch, but also empowering,” Gaber said. “By sharing the pain, strength and resilience of these mothers and daughters, we hope to help save others from suffering in the future.”

The film screening is part of a series of events at UT for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

For the full list of events, click here.

Immigration seminar set for March 23

Recent changes to U.S. immigration laws will be the topic at an informational immigration seminar sponsored by the Paralegal Studies Program.

The event will take place Thursday, March 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Health and Human Services Building Room 1711.

The seminar will focus on general immigration rules and international student visa status; immigration updates under the Trump administration; ramifications to immigration status for those charged with a crime; and the rights and responsibilities of international students after graduation.

The guest speaker for the event will be Tracy Schauff, who has more than 20 years of experience in immigration law, from the Fakhoury Law Group.

“Today, the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States on a long-term basis is the highest it has ever been,” said John J. Schlageter, program director and senior lecturer of the Paralegal Studies Program. “Immigration law and policy has a dramatic impact on the foreign born, their family members, and the U.S. workforce.”

Schlageter said that since immigration law is never static and societal goals and public priorities are always changing, the information that will be presented in the seminar is even more valuable.

“This information is of value to everyone, regardless of their nationality. Faculty and staff need to be informed so that assistance can be given to any student who may inquire,” Schlageter said. “Students should be informed so that trips to country of origin can be better planned. Doing so will cause less confusion upon re-entry to the United States and will continue the University’s goal of creating a memorable educational experience.”

Lunch will be provided for the first 50 people at the free event, which is open to faculty, staff and students.

Mock trial team brings regional trophy back to UT

The UT Mock Trial Team is continuing a tradition of excellence. Over the years, the team has earned national championship titles 10 times, and may be on its way to another.

“After their outstanding performance at the regional tournament, The University of Toledo’s Mock Trial Team has received a bid to represent our region at the Opening Round Championship,” said John Schlageter, coach of the team, program director and senior lecturer for the Paralegal Studies Program.

Members of the UT mock trial team posed for a photo after winning a bid to the Opening Round Championship Tournament at the Cleveland Regional Tournament. They are, from left, Joshua Yeager, Kyle Zapadka, Travis Peterson, Taylor Sanders, Colleen Anderson, Andrea Bonds, Elizabeth Layhew and Rachel Schneider.

UT went head to head with 16 other schools, including Case Western, Ohio State University, Cornell University, and Michigan State, at the competition Feb. 25 and 26 at the Cleveland Justice Center.

The team is preparing for its next competition, practicing case materials in the McQuade Courtroom in the Health and Human Services Building. Both the regional and championship tournaments consist of four rounds of competition, in which teams are required to perform twice as plaintiff and twice as defense.

The American Mock Trial Association hosts the competitions from February through April, alternating between a civil case and a criminal case each year. This year, teams are representing both sides of a civil case for wrongful termination. Each round must consist of three witnesses and three student attorneys, as well as one direct and one cross-examination.


Schlageter noted that participation on the team is open to and benefits all majors: “The mock trial experience is a value-creating activity open to all students regardless of major. Team members must demonstrate abilities to communicate meaningfully, persuasively and creatively to a jury. Communication students may learn how to speak effectively in public. Theatre students may learn how to perfect their craft playing the role of attorney or witness. Business students may learn how to give a persuasive presentation. Any student that desires to master the ability to communicate meaningfully, persuasively and creatively with different audiences through written, oral, numeric, graphic and visual modes would benefit greatly through mock trial.”

The Opening Round Championship will be held Friday through Sunday, March 24-26, in Hamilton, Ohio.

“I am very proud of the dedication and hard work exhibited by our team. Our team is committed to getting even better in preparation for the upcoming championship tournament,” Schlageter said. “These students bring back an understanding of the high regard our judicial system merits and the protection it affords all of our citizens.”