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CYFC Update

CYFC Update — November-December 2017

kids arm in arm laughing

What's Next for Me?

By Judy Myers, Extension educator

Judy Myers speaking at conference

After nearly seven years with the Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC), I am retiring in December 2017. The past years have been rich with wonderful relationships with CYFC colleagues, meaningful community partnerships, and deep learning with our many scholar and practitioner partners. I have particularly positive memories of the following Lessons from the Field workshops: "Historical Trauma: Significance and Response; Trauma and Children: A Model Program for Trauma-focused Care and Why it Works; Unbarred: Strengthening Families Affected by Incarceration;" and "Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth." These events provided numerous opportunities to work with and learn from researchers and professionals in these fields.

My longest partner relationship has been with Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. This collaboration has been fruitful and very personally satisfying. I will continue to maintain my relationship with the school and after December, I'll work as a volunteer, assisting in efforts to create a nature-based play space and integrated structured playground.

Probably my most significant conversations during seven years with CYFC have been about white privilege and institutional racism. Living in Atlanta for 21 years, I never heard those terms, despite years of working with African-American families and colleagues and teaching students of color. Being immersed in these topics has been an important part of my development.

I'm grateful to partners who have pushed me to see the world through different lens, individuals like Elder Atum Azzahir (executive director of the Cultural Wellness Center), Bill Allen (marriage and family therapist with Healing Bonds), and Scott Masini (principal of Bruce Vento Elementary School). I hope I'm a better human being for knowing these people and many others who have pushed me to think bigger.

With limitless opportunities in retirement, I am looking forward to continuing my interests in health and education. I'm told by those who have preceded me in retirement that life just keeps getting better.

bruce vento school garden

Bruce Vento Storytelling Team Plans 'Premiere'

By Judy Myers, Extension educator

Imagine finding a compelling way to tell a story that has been nearly five years in the making. Earlier this year, I joined a team formed to tell the story of CYFC's partnership with the Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. We met this daunting challenge with both excitement and caution. Our first task was finding a visionary person to put the story into a format that captured both the spirit and the content of the partnership. Thanks to a grant from the University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity, we had financial support to hire Kristen Heimerl, a consultant and media professional with a passion for the Bruce Vento partnership.

After nearly 10 weeks of creative collaboration, we're nearing completion of an interactive story map combining a video, text, and photos to tell the Bruce Vento story. We will host a premiere event at Bruce Vento school in mid-December where we will showcase the story map to parents, students teachers, staff, and administrators at Bruce Vento, as well as University students and staff. We hope other school administrators will want to attend.

The comprehensive story map covers each stage of partnership development, beginning with the schoolyard garden and calming room. The six story map components are:

Each component will highlight design and development, execution, outcomes, lessons learned, and related research. Our intention is to create a tool that parents, school consultants, and educators can use to identify concepts for adaption in other settings. Throughout the interactive story map, which will be displayed online, users will be able to pick and choose elements for "deeper dives," including text, videos, and photos. Quotations and interviews will be conveyed via text and videos.

Since each school culture is unique, we deliberately avoided creating a replicable model. The Bruce Vento collaboration has been an evolving and iterative process informed by various stakeholders, including parents, teachers, community workers, University faculty, University students, and school social workers. Primary school leaders have been the principal, Scott Masini, and assistant principal, Amanda Musachio. They have been mutually committed to create a trauma-sensitive environment where students can feel safe and supported while they learn. Without Scott and Amanda, the story could not have been told.

As soon as the story map is available, we will post a public web link. Stay tuned for this announcement.

The Bruce Vento Storytelling Team includes: Kristen Heimerl, consultant; Emily Becher, Extension researcher; Nicole Helgeson, Extension graduate research assistant; and myself. Besides being an Extension educator, I also serve as CYFC liaison with the school.

CYFC Program Updates and News

Less Din in the Dining Hall

dining hall

Bruce Vento Elementary School welcomed students into a new, less noisy dining hall experience at the start of the school year. Here's the story.

With the arrival of new, smaller round tables, students and teachers adjusted quickly to the new furniture. Comments have all been favorable, including those from the dining hall food manager, who enthusiastically embraced the changes.

In fact, she liked the round tables so much, she decided to create a "cafe" experience for students with utensils, napkins, and condiments within easy reach at each table. The dining hall previously featured long, rectangular tables, requiring students to constantly get up to retrieve forgotten items from other parts of the tables. Students say they like the new tables because they can sit with friends and talk without having to shout.

As a result, says School Principal Scott Masini, the new arrangement is quieter than the old one, rendering his earlier idea of putting up glass walls to reduce noise unnecessary. "With the new tables we've already noticed a big change in the noise level and students are having interesting conversations with one another," he said. In September, Twin Cities TV Channel 5's Ellen Galles interviewed Scott, 5th grade student Tariyah Watson, College of Design Professor Abi Asojo, and Judy Myers, Extension educator and CYFC liaison with the school, about changes at Bruce Vento. Click on the video image to hear Tariyah's comments about the changes the round tables have created during meal times.

CYFC Health, Well-being and Economic Opportunity for LGBT People in Rural Environments

lgbt conference

As part of our 2017-2018 Scholar in Residence Program, CYFC recently worked with Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D., to bring together a panel of educators to speak to Extension audiences about their research on "Health, Well-being and Economic Opportunity for LGBT People in Rural Environments." The panel, held October 11, featured educators from land-grant universities across the country, including Dr. McGuire, an associate professor with the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. She discussed "Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth in Rural Contexts." Others presenting their research to the Minnesota audience were:

Demand for information on the topic of transgender youth has greatly increased since CYFC's Lessons from the Field hosted seven regional events earlier this year on "Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth." The October 11 event provided an opportunity to learn more specific research and engage in deeper dialogue about the topic. Participants in the October 11 event and other educators from across the country will continue to work together to create an infrastructure for multi-state research and outreach projects related to LGBT people in rural environments. They are also working to create a supportive pipeline for others doing this work.

CYFC will keep you updated on this topic by posting materials as they become available on our website. Look for resources in our ever-expanding Transgender Toolkit!

Cultural Providers Network Sets December Meeting

CYFC supports the ongoing activities of the Cultural Providers Network, a group of professionals focused on improving mental health services for children of color. The December CPN meeting will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Thursday, the 14th, at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis. This meeting will feature two presenters: Amanda Calmbacher, with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, who will discuss Native American and indigenous payment structures for mental health services, and Fadumo Hassan, with Bloomington Public Schools, who will talk about female genital circumcision. CPN meetings are open to the public, so if these topics are of interest to you, please join us.

If you have any questions about CPN, you may email Cari Michaels,, or Mina Blyly-Strauss,

Recent Presentations

September Webinar Highlighted Mental Health in the Workplace

On September 29, CYFC hosted a webinar for Extension employees titled "Mental Health in the Workplace." The webinar, featuring Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota, was the third event on mental well-being designed to reach an Extension audience. Issues addressed during the webinar included dealing with stress, identifying the common symptoms of a mental illnesses, recognizing ways in which attitudes and language impact people with mental illnesses, and making accommodations for mental illness in the workplace.

Interested in the research? Find CYFC's two new online research bibliographies about Stress and Resilience in the Workplace and Beyond:

Watch for more information as we continue to develop our workplace resilience resources!

Community Events

Following are a selection of upcoming events that we think CYFC constituents may be interested in. Brief descriptions are provided, and we encourage you to follow up with the sponsoring organizations to learn more.

Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community November Meeting

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) holds monthly sessions for people interested in learning about promoting mental well-being and building resilience. You may participate in person or by webinar. The Tuesday, November 28 session will feature Joi Lewis, Ed.D., who will discuss "From Hollering to Healing: Using Community Coaches to Address Trauma." For more information and to register for the November session, go to the MDH website.

Bright Futures Begin at Birth Event

The second annual "Bright Futures Begin at Birth" event is set for Wednesday, November 29 in downtown Saint Paul. It will bring together health care and public service providers, community leaders, educators, and advocates on behalf of young children, birth to age 3, to share information and learning. The keynote speaker this year will be Mary Brainerd, president and CEO of Health Partners, and there will be a panel including Sameerah Bilal-Roby, director of the African American Babies Project and Coalition; Gigi Chawla, M.D., of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and Angela Watts, senior policy aide for early childhood education and youth development for Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. Register here or contact Kristen at (612) 816-7916 to register by November 20.

MACMH Infant and Early Childhood Series

This fall the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH) has been holding a series of professional training events focused on infant and early childhood mental health. Two events are left in this series: "Before the ABCs: Strategies for the Promotion of Self-Regulation and Intervention" will be held in Minneapolis on Thursday, November 16, and "Bridging the Relationship Gap: Building Resilience in Young Children Facing Adversity" will be held in St. Paul on Thursday, December 14. Each of these sessions offers 6 continuing education hours (CEHs). To register and learn more, visit the MACMH website.

MACMH Child and Adolescent Series

This fall the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH) has been holding a series of professional training events focused on child and adolescent mental health. Three of these events are left in the series: "Battling Eating Disorders in Children and Teens" (3 CEHs) will be held in St. Louis Park on Tuesday, November 14; "Understanding Attachment and Rethinking Behavior: Healing Children Who Have Experienced Trauma" (6 CEHs) will be held in Shoreview on Monday, December 4; and "Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Teens and Adolescents" (3 CEHs) will be held in Maplewood on Tuesday, December 12. To find out more about these sessions and register,  visit the MACMH website.

Research and Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health

The 31st annual "Research and Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health" will be held March 4-7, 2018, at the Hilton Tampa Downtown Hotel in Tampa, Fla. This annual gathering features more than 500 researchers, evaluators, policy makers, administrators, parents, and advocates. Special interest topics this year include: Youth and Young Adults; Evidence-based Practice in Systems of Care; Innovations in Wraparound; Behavioral Health Equity; Institute for Translational Research in Adolescent Behavioral Health (Institute members only); and Child Welfare. For more information on the conference and to register,  visit the website.

National Health Outreach Conference Set for May in Minnesota

The 2018 National Health Outreach Conference planning team invites you to join us in Bloomington, Minn., on May 2-4, 2018 for "Engaging in a Culture of Health: Making Waves in the Land of 10,000 Lakes." This event brings together stakeholders and partners from across the nation, including Cooperative Extension, to explore transformative approaches for improving community health. The goals of this conference include: fostering a culture of health through community-based strategies; encouraging health equity; creating improvement in health through disruptive change and innovation; and promoting co-creation with communities to ensure relevance and reduce barriers to positive change. For more information on this conference and how to register, visit the visit the website.

We Want to Hear from You: Take the MACMH Infant and Early Childhood Survey

If you work with infants and toddlers or support people who work with infants and toddlers, the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health-Infant and Early Childhood Program (MACMH-IEC) wants to hear from you. MACMH-IEC is gathering information to understand how to best benefit you and the communities you serve through membership.

As a thank you for providing your insight and feedback, MACMH-IEC will send you a list of more than 50 infant and early childhood mental health resources that include videos, recommended books and more. Please take the survey now.

Obtaining Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement

The Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health Infant and Early Childhood Program (MACMH-IEC) Endorsement System® recognizes the professional development and work experiences of professionals focusing on culturally sensitive, relationship-based infant and early childhood mental health. Endorsement is available to practitioners working in a range of settings and disciplines in four different categories. The program's credential coursework and reflective supervision and consultation components meet training requirements for Category I and II endorsement for culturally sensitive, relationship-focused practice promoting infant mental health through MACMH-IEC. If you have questions about the endorsement process, check out the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development website or email the center at

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