Project helps expectant parents transition

photo of expectant coupleThe Emotional Attachment Lab at Colorado State University is looking for participants for its latest research project: Love Now, Success Later. In the project, researchers will be examining the effectiveness of a workshop series that teaches mindfulness and emotional availability skills for expecting parents during the last trimester. The purpose of this research study is to see if an emotional availability and mindfulness intervention will improve couple functioning, individual well-being, and infant outcomes. All study participants will be compensated and entered in a drawing for self-care and baby-care gifts. Participation in the study is completely voluntary. The next round of interventions will be held on Friday evenings from March 27 through April 17. To learn more about the project or see if you are eligible, email amanda.hall@colostate.edu. Check out the project website, lovenowsuccesslater.yolasite.com, or its Facebook page at facebook.com/emotionalattachment.

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Campus Corps lands grant to evaluate youth mentoring model

Story by Chance Johnson CSU’s Campus Corps youth mentoring program has received nearly $600,000 in funding from the William T. Grant Foundation to study the effectiveness of its distinctive approach to improving the lives of at-risk youth. [caption id="attachment_10573" align="alignright" width="300"]photo of mentor and mentee A Campus Corps mentor, right, works with her youth mentee during a homework help session.[/caption] Shelley Haddock, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and Kimberly Henry, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, and colleagues will study one of the key components of the Campus Corps mentoring program: Mentor Families. Campus Corps is a structured therapeutic mentoring program that matches trained CSU undergraduate student mentors with adolescents from Larimer County who are at risk for problem behaviors. The adolescents may struggle with delinquency, substance abuse, poverty, mental health problems, or family/social difficulties. Since 2010, more than 1,265 youth have received mentoring through the program, and preliminary evidence suggests that the program is effective at improving outcomes for participants. One youth mentee stated, “As the weeks went by, and I was staying clean and everything, I was like, I’m not such a bad person, maybe I have more of a purpose in life than just doing drugs.” Mentors benefit too The positive outcome of the program is not exclusive to the mentees, but also to the mentors. “I was ready to drop out of college before joining Campus Corps,” one student mentor said, “and now, because of my time spent with the youth, I am excited about the possibility of pursuing an education degree.” Henry explained how the new study will test a key component of Campus Corps: the Mentor Family. “There is a base dyad (a group of two people) that consists of the mentor and mentee, this is akin to many mentoring programs across the country,” she said. “In Campus Corps, these dyads are embedded in what we call a Mentor Family.” Four mentor-mentee dyads make up a Mentor Family. This leads to the primary research question: Does embedding mentor-mentee pairs in a Mentor Family lead to better outcomes? “We have a conceptual model that demonstrates why we think Mentor Families will enhance the benefits of a traditional mentoring relationship,” Henry said. “Mentors will feel more supported and satisfied with their role – and will have a greater sense of self-efficacy. Therefore, they will be more capable to provide high-quality mentoring to the mentees.” 'Sense of belonging' Henry attributes the success of Mentor Families to the fact that it makes participants feel like they belong to a group. “Mentees will have a greater sense of belonging and mattering to others because they are part of this larger group; they will also have more opportunities to develop their social skills and broaden their social resources,” she said. “Ultimately, we posit that these improvements in the mentoring process will translate to better long-term outcomes for mentees; potentially decreasing depressive symptoms, improving academic outcomes, and decreasing delinquency.” Haddock said that during each evening of the program, mentees pair off, taking part in a variety of productive activities. “The program has the feel of a community to it,” Haddock said, “and is overseen by graduate students who are part of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program in HDFS.” Haddock said there are various levels of resources available to the youth. “A lot of these youth have difficult situations going on in their lives,” she said. “When they let the mentor know of an issue, the mentor can access the therapist, and then the mentee can meet with the therapist if needed.” The evaluation process Over the course of three years, the Campus Corps research team will randomly assign Campus Corps sessions (four per semester) to either a Mentor Family or no Mentor Family (traditional one-on-one mentoring). Program differences will be assessed via longitudinal surveys of mentors, mentees, and mentees’ caregivers; observations of mentors and mentees; and collection of official data such as academic achievement and recidivism. By the end of the study, the Campus Corps research team will determine if Mentor Families improve long-term outcomes for youth, and if they do, the mechanisms by which these improvements take place. This will have important implications for Campus Corps, as well as mentoring programs across the country. Haddock developed Campus Corps along with Toni Zimmerman, a professor in HDFS, Jen Krafchick, a senior teaching assistant professor in HDFS, and Lindsey Weiler, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Other researchers on the evaluation project include Weiler, Lise Youngblade, professor and head of HDFS and associate dean for research in the College of Health and Human Sciences; and Rachel Lucas Thompson, assistant professor in HDFS.

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CSU offers new website for healthy living

image of Live Eat Play sealColorado State University has launched a new website with resources and tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle — and stay true to those new year’s resolutions. The site, called “Live Eat Play,” includes information on exercise and various diets, cooking tips, health foods and maintaining a good work/life balance. A collaboration among CSU Extension, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center, it can be found at www.liveeatplay.colostate.edu. Laura Bellows, an assistant professor in the FSHN department and an Extension specialist for nutrition, said the website has been several years in the making and served as a learning lab for the undergraduate and graduate students who worked on it. “As a student, working on Live Eat Play has taught me the process from initial brainstorm to finish to produce relevant nutrition and health information in a positive and engaging light,” said Emily Clyatt, an undergrad student who worked on the project. “It has been a great experience — we always work as a team and learn as we go.” 'Incredible opportunity' “My graduate work as a coauthor for the Live Eat Play website has been an incredible opportunity,” said grad student Kelly Niebaum. “Each day I gain valuable professional writing experience and spend my time researching what I love most — nutrition and healthful living. Nutrient-dense foods, lifestyle tips and ways to play in Colorado are a few of the many topics I have written about. Combining science-based research with creativity is a stimulating challenge that creates a rewarding work environment.” Bellows said students from the Department of Health and Exercise Science and Colorado School of Public Health have also worked on the site, which is constantly evolving. Both CSU Extension and The Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center use the Live Eat Play website to supplement nutrition, weight loss, and diabetes classes as well as worksite wellness presentations. “The Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center also uses its materials for individual clients as a way to provide nutrition information immediately and for ongoing support once they are on their own.” said Melissa Wdowik, director of the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center.

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