UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Community Outreach
UAB Grants Help Local Teachers Inspire Digital Success
By Shelley Stewart
In the early 20th century, iron ore from Birmingham’s Red Mountain fueled the young city’s rapid growth. One hundred years later, information has replaced iron as the driving force behind economic success, but the mountain—the scenic backdrop to UAB, the region’s new powerhouse—is still a symbol of opportunity.
The Red Mountain Writing Project (RMWP), founded in 2004 and sponsored by UAB’s School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, is dedicated to helping teachers at all grade levels find and adopt innovative strategies for literacy instruction. Some of the most exciting innovations involve tablet computers, e-book readers, and other high-tech tools, which are poised to bring a revolution in education, says Tonya Perry, Ph.D., director and principal investigator of the RMWP since 2008.
“Being prepared for a digital world is critical for all young people,” says Perry, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education. Although they are making greater use of technology, many urban schools, facing chronic budget constraints, don’t always have the means to give students this vital experience, she says.
In 2012, the RMWP awarded four public-school grants of $1,000 each to bring new digital tools into local classrooms. “Research shows that students who participate in innovative work like this definitely outperform those who aren’t prepared,” Perry says.
Adventures in Education
Rod Leonard, a teacher at Bush Hills Academy in Birmingham, bought iPads to improve literacy among his seventh- and eighth-grade students. “They take technology in stride, and I can see that they’re engaged,” Leonard says. “They are having so much fun that some of them didn’t even realize they would get a grade for what they are doing.”
Student Profile: A.T. Helix
By Matt Windsor
She has a name for science and a passion for people. Ashley Taylor Helix (she goes by A.T., “which could represent the adenine and thymine base pairs in the double helix formation” of DNA, she says) is a junior from Huntsville majoring in neuroscience with minors in chemistry and psychology.
For the past year, Helix has had the chance to examine the brain structure of patients with schizophrenia in the lab of a world-renowned expert on the disease. But she is equally excited about helping her fellow undergraduates visualize the effects of mental illness using a more blunt instrument: backpacks—lots and lots of backpacks.
Helix, a member of the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program, is the founder and president of the UAB chapter of Active Minds, “a national organization whose goal is to change the conversation about mental health,” she says. On October 29, 2012, the group will bring to UAB a traveling event called Send Silence Packing, which gives “students an understanding of how big of an impact that suicide can have on a community,” Helix says.
“At the event, 1,100 backpacks will be laid out on the Campus Green,” Helix says. “That represents the number of college-aged students who complete suicide every year.” Send Silence Packing has two goals, Helix says. “One is for students to understand that there are people willing and able to help them if they are depressed or contemplating suicide; the second is for people to recognize the signs in their friends and to reach out to them.” The event “has never come to the South and rarely comes to new chapters,” Helix says, but thanks to support from several UAB organizations, “we were able to bring it to our campus.”
Student Caregivers Help Underserved Patients
By Meghan Davis
UAB School of Medicine, she was intrigued by the opportunities students had to work in the state-of-the-art facilities at UAB Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic. But what attracted her most was the chance to work in a far less well-equipped building a few miles east of campus.When Marielle Baldwin was interviewing for a place at the
Baldwin previously served in AmeriCorps in Colorado, working as a health educator at a pediatric primary care clinic, which sparked an interest in primary care and in the larger issues of health care access and affordability. When she found out about Equal Access Birmingham (EAB), a student-run volunteer organization at the UAB School of Medicine, she was eager to get involved.
“It was important to choose a medical school where I could not only learn to become a physician but also interact with my community and take a public health approach,” says Baldwin, now a second-year student and EAB president.
Now in its seventh year, EAB has steadily added members, expanded its services to reach more local communities, and increased its fund-raising. By the end of the summer, the group plans to be able to open a free student-run clinic of its own. From its inception, EAB has planned a sustainable, freestanding clinic to ease the burden on the city’s emergency services and clinics and offer students a chance to help their community, says Baldwin.
UAB Alumnus Helps Break Down Barriers
By Jo Lynn Orr
UAB Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. For thousands of Americans, it’s impossible to enter buildings without curb cuts and ramps or read a restaurant menu unless it’s printed in Braille.Imagine going to a restaurant. When you get to the entrance, you look through the glass door and see others enjoying their dining experience. You reach for the door to enter, but there’s no handle. This is the emotional reality for many people with disabilities, says Phil Klebine, assistant director of research services in the
For decades, people with and without disabilities have worked to promote equal access and advocated for disability rights through public awareness activities, says Klebine, who earned his bachelor’s degree in communications in 1992 and his master’s degree in counseling in 2000, both from UAB.
Klebine, who lives with a spinal cord injury, has spent decades advocating for disability rights. He currently serves on the Governor’s Office on Disability State Advisory Council and is a board member for Disability Rights and Resources (formerly Independent Living Resources of Greater Birmingham).
"Disability Rights and Resources is a nonprofit organization that provides people with disabilities with services such as advocacy, peer support, independent living skills training, home modifications, nursing home transition, computer training, work incentives, and referrals to community resources,” Klebine says. The organization also helps with employment by assisting people with job searches and teaching resume-writing skills, he explains.
Student Selects a Big Idea for Birmingham
By Charles Buchanan
Prize2theFuture, a competition organized by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham to generate ideas for the block of land next to Railroad Park, a 19-acre green space along the tracks that has become a popular downtown destination. With $72,000 in prizes and the opportunity to create a new Birmingham landmark at stake, the contest attracted 1,115 entries from around the world.Earlier this year, an ordinary parking lot near UAB became the subject of intense scrutiny. It was the focus of
When it came time to find a winner among all the ideas, the foundation turned to someone who knows the neighborhood well: UAB Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) president Bradley Watts. “It was an amazing opportunity to represent both my school and my constituents,” says the Springville, Alabama, native and member of the University Honors Program.
Searching for Impact
Watts was one of 33 judges, who included nationally known architects and designers, community and business leaders, and politicians; he was the only university student on the panel. Each judge received between 50 and 80 entries to evaluate, Watts says. “We used a sliding scale between 0 and 100 to score five different factors relating to each project’s appeal, how it complemented Railroad Park, and feasibility.” The foundation aggregated scores from multiple judges to create a final score for each entry.