Foundation series

2 teams awarded 2021 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts and Wellness Innovation Awards

Two projects focused on supporting the social and emotional health of high school students through drama and building the mental health resilience of hospital nurses have been named winners of the 2021 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts and Wellness Innovation Award. Each project received a grant of $25,000.

The awards were established in 2018 by the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation of Central Florida to recognize interdisciplinary teams that create enduring models for innovation in the arts and wellbeing. Teams, comprised of UCF personnel and community organizations, must involve the UCF College of Arts and Humanities and at least one other University of Central Florida college, unit, or center, as well as a community organization .

“I am thrilled with the range and depth of initiatives inspired by the Arts and Wellness Innovation Awards,” says Margery Pabst Steinmetz, who co-founded the foundation with her husband and launched these annual awards at UCF. “Campus and community partnerships create teams that combine the best academic thinking and application to build capacity and sustainability. »

In fall 2021, 10 teams submitted proposals for both awards. The winners were chosen for their interdisciplinary, sustainable and community-oriented character.

Mind Matters: Building socio-emotional resilience in high school students through drama

Mind Matters builds on Act Out Justice, an existing partnership between UCF and the Orlando Repertory Theater that invites high school students to explore social justice through storytelling and drama. This project will provide the funding and partnerships needed to help student participants explore mental and social-emotional health issues.

Young actors in the 2019 production of “Act Out Justice.” (Photo by Emily Freeman)

“Creating theater designed for social change with high school students has taught me that mental wellness is a subject that high school students are incredibly passionate and curious about,” says Elizabeth Brendel Horn, lead researcher on the project. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the disruption of normal daily activities, the pivot to remote learning and an increase in social isolation, the mental health status of high school students in our country is at a critical point. Additionally, mental health is a matter of social justice, with people from marginalized populations, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth, being at greater risk.

The project will consist of several phases, including listening sessions with high school theater teachers; the development of 10 new short plays on mental health to use in class or in performance; the development of a study program to accompany on one of the plays; and the launch of an open-access website featuring the project’s program and resources, as well as the published anthology of plays.

“It seems important and timely to reorient my applied theater work with young people towards this subject,” says Horn. “I am grateful that with this award and the incredible team that has come together for this project, we have access to the resources and knowledge we need to create meaningful and relevant theater programming on mental health and resilience. for high school students.

Researchers from the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Science and community partners include:

  • Elizabeth Horn, associate professor of theater for young audiences
  • Steven Berman, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Allison Phillips, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Emily Freeman, Director of Community Partnerships for Orlando Repertory Theater
  • Jennifer Adams, Senior Director of Education for Orlando Repertory Theater
  • Maria Cary, Resource Teacher, Orange County Public Schools
  • Jonathan Dorf, co-founder, Youth PLAYS

Building Mental Health Resilience for Hospital Nurses Through a Peer Support Training Program Using Comedic Testimonials

UCF RESTORES, the nationally recognized nonprofit clinical treatment and clinical research center, developed the REACT (Recognize, Evaluate, Advocate, Coordinate, Track) Peer Support Program to better acquaint first responders with the mental health stress trauma assessment and response. This project aims to enrich and adapt this program with comedic testimonials produced by hospital nurses, drawing inspiration from the established movements of graphic medicine and comedic therapy.

Cartoon panel created by Nathan Holic and a nurse manager. (Illustration by Blake Scott)

“Today, more than ever, nurses need support for their mental well-being as they continue to live under stressful working conditions,” says Blake Scott, lead researcher on the project. “Our healthcare comics team of nursing, writing and speaking teachers is thrilled to partner with renowned UCF research center RESTORES to expand its peer support training program for nurses from area hospitals, focusing on incorporating comedic testimonials from nurses.”

The project will include three stages: a series of workshops to train nurses from area hospitals to create autograph comics about their experiences; adaptation of REACT workshop materials for acute care nurses and incorporation of autobiographical comics into workshop case scenarios; and the use of comics in cultural competency training for mental health specialists that would help nurses with more severe mental stress and trauma.

“The comics we are helping nurses create (and eventually publish) would not only improve peer training to identify and support struggling nurses, but also provide nurses with an innovative way of art therapy and self-representation,” says Scott.

Researchers from the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Nursing, College of Medicine and College of Sciences include:

  • John Blake Scott, professor of writing and rhetoric
  • Clint Bowers, Pegasus Professor of Psychology, UCF RESTORES Director of Resilience and Prevention
  • Caylee Neisler, UCF RESTORES Research and Medical Outreach Coordinator
  • Sandra Galura, assistant professor of nursing, director of the master’s program in nursing leadership and management
  • Christa Cook, Associate Professor of Nursing
  • Nathan Holic, associate lecturer in writing and rhetoric
  • Aislinn Woody, Ph.D. nursing student
  • Maeher Sukhija, undergraduate student in biomedical sciences

Since its inception in 2018, eight projects have received funding for the Pabst Steinmetz Arts and Wellness Innovation Awards.

The winning initiatives in 2018 were “The Arts and Aging: An Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Initiative” and “Positive Parenting Fables”. The 2019 winners were “Creative Approaches to Combating HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Healthcare Providers” and “The Xavier Project Hands-Free Training Game,” and the 2020 winners were “Fables vs. Urban Legends: Telling Vaccine Stories at the Intersection of Ethnography and Epidemiology” and “Advocating for Aphasia: Using the Performing Arts to Build Conscious Community.”