Monthly archives: December, 2015

Hispanic Center of Excellence

Hispanic Center of Excellence: College of Medicine
Mission: To improve the medical care of Latinos in Illinois by providing programs that strengthen the pipeline and increase the number of Latino applicants pursuing health careers; enrich the education of Latino students, with an emphasis on producing linguistically and culturally-competent health practitioners; and build partnerships with others that share the same vision. For more information, visit the Hispanic Center of Excellence.


Get Insured Today!

Get Insured Today

Get Insured.  We are here to help

Need Affordable Health Care?

Get informed, Get Enrolled, Get Personalized Assistance with the Health Care you need.

When:  Now through January 30th, 2016
Mondays-Fridays  9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturdays  9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Provided by: Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition &
The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences (UI Health)

Where: 1740 W. Taylor, Hospital Admissions, Booth #1

What: Get Covered Illinois Marketplace Enrollment & Medicaid Enrollment

Government Certified Representatives will be available to provide personal assistance regarding the Affordable Care Act Enrollment Insurance Plans and Provider Options.

For more information: 866-600-CARE

You will need to bring:
1) Government ID: Driver’s License, or State ID, or U.S. Military ID
2) Social Security number or legal immigration documents
3) W-2 forms, or pay stubs or tax statements

About 2,000 UIC Students Graduate Early In December

2015 graduationIt was a happy time for about 2,000 UIC students who completed their studies in summer and fall semester — instead of waiting for May 2016 commencement, they had their own ceremony Dec. 11 at the UIC Pavilion.

Field Museum president and CEO Richard Lariviere spoke at the Graduate College ceremony. Kevin Lynch, Apple Inc. vice president of technology, was the speaker at the undergraduate ceremony.

Professor Studies Bullying

Bullying laws are on the books in states around the nation, but the College’s Stacey Horn, PhD, professor of educational psychology in the UIC College of Education, worries that these laws, while well-intentioned, may not pinpoint the root causes of bullying.

“We have laws that tell students to be nice and improve conflict management, but we need to realize that bias is important and in all of our institutions,” Horn said. “Systemic oppression exists, and we need to look at the ways in which those sort of biases are coming out in how young people are treating each other and not say, ‘Let’s treat all types of bullying the same.’”

Horn earned a grant from the National School Climate Center to implement programming in schools aimed at reducing bias-motivated bullying by increasing school climate. Working in five Illinois middle schools over two years, Horn and a team of researchers are engaging in a process evaluation to examine what strategies work in schools and the feasibility of bringing those strategies to scale in multitudes of schools.

In 2012, the College’s Project Safe SPACES, led by Horn, worked with Prevent Illinois to distribute a bias-based bullying survey in Illinois schools. The data indicated 80 percent of students experienced some type of bias-based bullying in school. Further, the majority of students who experienced bias-based bullying were subject to bullying based on more than one type of bias. While bullying at face value is worthy of addressing, according to national data, students who experience two or more types of bias-based bullying face skyrocketing rates of depression and missed school days.

Addressing these challenges is playing out in a number of different ways in Illinois schools. At Sterling Middle School in Peoria, which has experienced high levels of bullying of students from low-income backgrounds, teachers worked on building curriculum that integrated lessons on the effects of poverty. At Unity Junior High School in Cicero, students were asked to analyze data from the biased bullying survey and create a presentation to faculty from their own perspectives on the causes of bullying. Teachers at the school have worked on building restorative discipline outcomes to address bullying situations.

This path is particularly salient, Horn says, because zero tolerance approaches often backfire. Students who report bullying in zero tolerance environments often end up facing schools suspensions themselves for engaging in retaliatory bullying.
“There is a lot of focus on how to support the victim, but a lot of approaches don’t look at if someone is doing the bullying, that kid needs help too,” Horn said. “Restorative discipline allows us to work with both sides to say, what is going on for you that you feel like you need to treat your peer in this way?”

UIC Faculty Leads Teens in Investigating Urban Pollution

In 1970, the Clean Air Act was strengthened by a series of amendments, requiring comprehensive federal and state regulations of industrial pollution sources.

Forty-two years later, predominantly Latino populations of Chicago’s Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods were still fighting for the cleaner air the Act’s amendments had promised. Chicago’s last two coal-fire power plants chugged away in the two neighborhoods without modern pollution control technologies until 2012, grandfathered into the law.

“That was allowed to happen for 42 years because of how the communities of color surrounding the plant are marginalized,” said Daniel Morales-Doyle, PhD Curriculum Studies ’15 and a post-doctoral fellow at the College. “This is an example of environmental racism, when communities of color disproportionately bear the negative impacts of environmental hazards and pollution.”

To investigate the effects of environmental injustice in Pilsen and Little Village, Morales-Doyle, David Segura, PhD Policy Studies in Urban Education student, Maria Varelas, PhD, professor of curriculum and instruction, Amy Levingston, MEd Science Education ‘13 and Karen Canales, an organizer for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization used funding from a Dean’s Community Engagement grant to launch a project entitled “Science Knowledge for Environmental Justice.” The project supported scientific investigations launched by students at Social Justice High School and captured scientific funds of knowledge of community environmental justice activists.

The projects launched by Social Justice students examined the long-term effects of industrial abandonment on Chicago’s near southwest side. Junior Aureliano Rivas examined mercury contamination of soil in a brownfield, land previously used for industrial purposes. Esmeralda Galvez conducted a spectrophotometric analysis of volatile organic compounds in paint on area buildings, while senior Francisco Lemus measured radiation levels in the vicinity of the Crawford Generating Station, one of the two grandfathered power plants that operated from 1924 until 2012 near Pulaski and 33rd St. Classmate Vanessa Mora measured mercury contamination around the same power plant. All four used funding to purchase supplies or access cutting-edge equipment on the UIC campus. Kathy Nagy, PhD and Kenneth Kearny from UIC Earth and Environmental Sciences provided laboratory access along with training and support in sampling and analysis for students who wanted to measure mercury content in Little Village soil.

Grant funding also supported student-teacher Cheryl Kondreck, MEd Science Education student, who implemented a week-long series of lessons in environmental science classes, studying alternative energy sources that could replace the closed power plant in the neighborhood.

The Little Village Youth Summit, organized by the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, brought together students, families and community members to address environmental concerns in the neighborhood and promote STEM pipeline access for Black and Latino students. Finally, interviews with Little Village community members highlighted how residents engage with science practices and environmental justice issues in their own lives.

“Science provides students with another way to investigate the reality in which they live,” Morales-Doyle said. “To try to understand the impacts of the pollution in their neighborhood rather than accepting what they are told by the polluting industries or by outsiders who don’t understand what it means to live in that polluted space, they are able to create opportunities for themselves to contribute to their communities that may not have existed without connections to science.”

Morales-Doyle says opportunities for students from Little Village and Pilsen to engage with science as scientists, not simply as observers, is key because students who attend neighborhood CPS schools are frequently shut out of the STEM pipeline. In the case of Mora, whose investigation of mercury contamination earned her a silver medal at the Citywide Science Fair, she literally was shut out of the science fair while at her previous school because of her classification as an English language learner.

“Being experts of science, being experts in their own community, they realized they have the expertise to inform others and speak truth to power,” Morales-Doyle said.

Improving Oral Health of Families

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will develop and test an outreach program to reduce cavities in Chicago’s low-income and minority infants and toddlers under a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Community health workers will reach out to educate families about oral hygiene at health clinics and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) centers and in their homes.

“We want to improve the oral health of the child by improving the oral health of the whole family,” said Dr. Molly Martin, Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the UIC College of Medicine. “If the parents or caregivers aren’t practicing good oral hygiene themselves, the chance that the children will take good care of their own teeth is much lower.”

Dr. Martin said the success of educational interventions can depend on the environment in which they are delivered.

“Are families more likely to take action if they are reached at home, in the clinic, or at a WIC center?” asked Dr. Martin, who is a fellow of the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy and principal investigator on the NIH grant.

Her team also wants to look at whether a combination of settings has a greater effect.

“We might find that families are more likely to take action if they are reached in the clinic and at home,” she said, “than they are if they are just reached at a clinic.”

The study, called Coordinated Oral Health Promotion Chicago, or CO-OP Chicago, includes UIC researchers in clinical pediatrics, dentistry, and health policy. They will recruit and train six community health workers to talk with 1,500 families in Chicago who have children between the ages of six months and three years. Families will be followed for two years to evaluate their overall oral health and the incidence of cavities in the children.

Almost half of children 11 years and under have cavities, one of the most common chronic health conditions of childhood, particularly among low-income and minority children. In Chicago, 63 percent of third graders have cavities, and more than half of the cavities go untreated.

Pediatric dentists at the College of Dentistry will develop the training curriculum for the community health workers.

“Improving oral health and access to care for families and children is something we are very excited to be a part of through this grant,” said Dr. Marcio da Fonseca, Head, Pediatric Dentistry, at the UIC College of Dentistry.

The grant to UIC is one of ten announced by the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) as part of the new national Multidisciplinary and Collaborative Research Consortium to Reduce Oral Health Disparities in Children.

“Research has shown that individual-level approaches alone are not sufficient to reduce rates of tooth decay and other oral diseases,” said NIDCR Program Director Ruth Nowjack-Raymer. The consortium’s research projects, she said, “will involve holistic,
population-health, and other approaches to take decisive action against oral health disparities at multiple levels of influence, such as families, neighborhoods, and healthcare systems.”

The CO-OP Chicago grant is administered by the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy, an all-campus home and incubator for multidisciplinary health research.

Co-investigators on the grant are Drs. William Frese, Usha Raj, and Benjamin Van Voorhees of the UIC College of Medicine; Drs. Marcio da Fonseca, David Avenetti, and Sheela Raja of the UIC College of Dentistry; Michael Berbaum and Oksana Pugach of the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy; and Jennie Pinkwater of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
–Sharon Parmet

Latina Mothers Writing Together

Parents are a child’s first teacher, but immigrant parents in low-income environments whose first language is not English are often not treated that way. Janise Hurtig, PhD, co-director of the PRAIRIE Group and coordinator of the Community Writing and Research Project at the College of Education, says schools often treat these parents as learners more than teachers.

Hurtig and P. Zitlali Morales, PhD, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, coordinated a Dean’s Community Engagement project to position dual language parents from two CPS schools as expert teachers through a community writing magazine called Real Conditions.

“Parents need to flourish as experts in their own lives and their children’s lives, in all the things they do in the world,” Hurtig said. “They are not brought into schools in this spirit when it is assumed they don’t have much intellectual or creative ability to share and teach.”

Hurtig and Morales worked with principals and dual language coordinators at Volta Elementary School in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood and Whittier Dual Language School in Pilsen to create opportunities for parents of children in dual language programs to share their own writing within school settings in a variety of ways. Hurtig and Morales initially envisioned parents writing about their experiences of raising children with dual language skills, but parent writers focused on the difficulties of raising their children in Chicago, their experiences with their children in CPS schools, their own experiences growing up in their native towns in Latin America, and eventually coming to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Parent groups from the two schools shared their writings with each other, their families, as well as with teachers from both schools. Finalized stories were published in a new edition of Real Conditions.

Outside of the school environment, Hurtig says parents strengthen their skills as literacy teachers in the home by building relationships with writing. Some of the parents in the group already engaged with reading to their children; one parent writer with vision problems and developing literacy skills worked with her daughter to write her story for the magazine.

“Literacy is a social and collective process, so for these kids to see their parents recognized as writers is really powerful,” Hurtig said. “Parents’ relationship with writing extends to their kids and builds the kids’ relationship to literacy as budding writers.”

Hurtig and Morales worry that low-income and English learner parents have internalized deficit perspectives propagated in public narratives about their lives. Parents without access to education and resources may self-invalidate the importance of their work raising their children. Hurtig sees projects like the Community Writing Project as opportunities to create spaces in which parents can explore their lives from meaningful perspectives to realize their life experiences are incredibly rich, powerful, strong and resilient. Sharing those stories with each other creates community building and often healing opportunities.

Morales and Hurtig recommend that schools seek out activities for parents that offer opportunities for them to flourish as thinkers and leaders, as opposed to only offering aid and assistance opportunities. They also note that teachers and teacher candidates who engage with parent writers will benefit from getting to know members of the community in authentic ways and appreciate aspects of the community they may not be familiar with. Schools may also want to explore ways of using the Real Conditions magazines as resources in their classrooms.



Cities of PeaceThe Jane Addams Hull-House Museum invites Chicago Public School Teachers and community-based youth workers to participate in a youth-led Teach-In Series.

These teach-in’s will center on the lived experiences and action-based research of Cities of Peace Fellows who have been interrogating the roots of structural and interpersonal violence, community resistance, and healing in Chicago and Cambodia.

These teach-in’s will incorporate original research, primary source documents, arts interventions, and discussion with local activists and scholars engaging issues of migration and immigration, criminalization and policing, gender-based violence, and trauma-informed critical pedagogy.

January – May 2016

10am – 2pm

One Saturday a Month

The application deadline is Friday, December 18th, 2015.