Grants help solve society’s problems
APF Visionary Grants are enabling five psychologists to expand their work understanding and
assisting vulnerable populations.
By ToRi DEANGEliS
When University of Hawaii Assistant Professor Thao N. Le,
PhD, MPH, sought to bring mindfulness
of Lake County,
Mont., she hit
on an approach
that the tribes
“They said that
what they’ve been
doing for centuries, and that this project
will help to restore their traditional ways
and practices,” she says.
Many young members of these tribes
— the Confederated Salish, Kootenai
and Pend d’Oreille — are disconnected
from their cultural roots and suffer from
disproportionately high rates of suicide
and other forms of violence, Le says.
Now, thanks to a $20,000 Visionary
Grant from the American Psychological
Foundation, and support from the
Colorado Injury Control Research
Center, Le is implementing and pilot
testing a translated version of the Mind
Body Awareness Project — a California-based mindfulness curriculum geared to
at-risk youth — with young members of
the tribes. Working with her colleague,
Judy Gobert, and other tribe members,
she is weaving cultural metaphors,
stories and other activities into the
program in ways the young people can
relate to. Le plans to bring in facilitators
from the Mind Body Awareness program
to train members of the tribe to
eventually take it over.
“My goal is for this program to
become completely sustainable,” she says.
Le is one of five psychologists who
won the 2011 APF Visionary Grants.
Each year APF grants up to $20,000
to support innovative psychological
solutions to pressing human problems
including violence, stigma and prejudice,
natural and manmade disasters and
health conditions. A related APF grant,
the Drs. Raymond A. And Rosalee G.
Weiss Research and Program Innovation
Fund Grant, provides $5,000 annually in
these same topic areas.
“The recipients of these grants are
innovators who are using the scientific
rigor of psychology to solve some of
society’s thorniest issues,” says APF
Executive Director Elisabeth Straus.
extend a study she is conducting with
Carole Shauffer, JD, of the Youth Law
Center, that seeks to nurture attachments
between incarcerated teen parents and
“Teen parents in the juvenile justice
system and their children are at risk for
a range of poor outcomes, including in
their relationships with one another,”
says Barr. “This intervention, if effective,
could help build them stronger early
attachments that may benefit their future
lives in many ways.”
Called the Baby Elmo Project, the
intervention offers weekly parent-
training sessions delivered by detention
facility staff; video clips from a video
series called “Sesame Beginnings,” where
characters from the television show
“Sesame Street” demonstrate positive
interactions among parents and very
young children; and weekly parent-
child visits. Research shows the protocol
improves bonds between these parents
and their 1- to 3-year-old children.
Now, the grant will allow them to test its
effectiveness with children younger than
1, says Barr.
Lisa Kiang, PhD,
is using her
grant to examine
may affect youth