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Summer Interns Make Final Presentations
Community-based participatory research requires diligence, tenacity, and thoroughness. The seventeen undergraduate- and graduate-level students who participated in the PRCHN’s summer internship program embody all of those traits. The 2016 summer interns gave their final presentations on Friday, August 5 before faculty and staff. Each intern was assigned to an ongoing PRCHN research study, giving these students with a grounding in the skills they will need as the next generation of community and public health researchers. Below we’ve shared photos and highlights from their presentations.

Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)
Annette Rodriguez, a graduate student from Kent State University, worked on data management and analysis for the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). She pointed out a number of trends found in the 2015 high school YRBS results, among them: hours of sleep, breakfast consumption, and helmet use were down. However, dentist visits, not smoking cigarettes, and students feeling like they matter to the community were all up.

Neighborhood Environmental Assessment Project (NEAP)

Approximately half of the interns conducted food retail audits as part of the larger Neighborhood Environmental Assessment Project (NEAP). NEAP is a systematic mapping initiative that aims to analyze the effects of Cleveland’s built environment on community health. The NEAP intern team worked on four separate phases of the project, including pre-screening calls; ground truthing (making sure a store still exists); food retail audits (going into a store and conducting an audit of the types of food and beverages available); and data entry and management. The food retail audits improve knowledge of the accessibility and distribution of healthy foods across Cleveland neighborhoods and can help identify communities most in need of healthier food choices for its residents. In the total, the NEAP interns ground trothed 177 Census tracts and audited 778 stores.

Healthy Food Retail

Case students Briana Walker and Jen Roberts worked with the Healthy Retail Initiative, which aims to increase health in communities with limited access to fresh, nutritious food. Targeted specifically at the cities of Cleveland and East Cleveland, the program works by partnering with small corner stores to help them add healthier food options to their existing inventory. Store owners are provided with several incentives, such as in-store marketing materials, trainings, and technical support. In return, they must make a commitment to gradually increase offerings of healthy products over a specific timeline. The team recruited 14 stores during the course of the ten-week internship.

FreshLink
and FM Tracks
Case graduate students Emily Jennings and Karen Kearney and Ohio State University undergraduate Grace Powers worked on the PRCHN’s core research, FreshLink, as well as its sister project, FM Tracks. Jennings, who has been working with the FreshLink study, helped co-facilitate trainings of two FreshLink Ambassadors. Using the Coit Road Farmers’ Market as a pilot, the FreshLink Ambassadors are conducting community outreach to engage SNAP recipients to farmers’ markets and the Produce Perks Program. Through her work, Jennings notes that she learned more about balancing the dynamic between quality research design and quality program design and how pilot programs provide valuable space to take risks and learn from both successes and failures.

Kearney and Powers worked with FM Tracks, which is a novel iOS app that allows farmers’ market managers to record and track sales and other data, in particular transaction data specifically for SNAP and other federal nutrition benefit programs. The FM Tracks app only came into wide release this market season, thus some market managers are not yet fully comfortable with it. Kearney and Powers conducted outreach to 22 Cuyahoga County farmers’ markets and provided direct support to ten market managers.

Produce Prescription Program
Case undergraduate Ayan Abdullahi worked with the Produce Prescription Program (PRx), which works to improve the health of patients with elevated blood pressure and/or hypertension by increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables. PRx is a three-month program in which one of six partner clinics recruit patients. Patients work with health providers to set monthly goals and check their blood pressure. In return, they receive a “produce prescription” in the form of four $10 vouchers that can be redeemed for produce at any of 28 participating farmers’ markets. She developed educational materials used at group sessions, conducted provider follow-up, addressed provider concerns and prepared all monthly packets for delivery to the six clinics.

Building Capacity for Obesity Prevention (BCOP)
Kent graduate student Chelsea Hoch worked with the Building Capacity for Obesity Prevention (BCOP) program, which is focused on improving food access and community nutrition. She assisted in developing materials for the BCOP website, including finding and evaluating farmers’ market and healthy food retail resources; developing written summaries of resources; and creating recommendations for diagnostic tool feedback.

The Future of Food in Your Neighborhood Study (foodNEST)
Case undergraduate student Matt Moy worked with the Future of Food in Your Neighborhood (foodNEST) study, which looks at how changes in the neighborhood food environment affect the health of a community. The goal of the study is to examine changes in diet quality among people living in two targeted neighborhoods in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The neighborhoods have similar demographics and higher-than-average rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, however, the Cleveland neighborhood is soon to be home to a multi-vendor food hub. In addition to conducting a literature review for the Healthy Eating Index, Moy assisted with the study’s implementation and evaluation cores.

Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN)
University of Cincinnati graduate student Katie Cimperman worked with the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) in the Department of Family Medicine under PRCHN Associate Director Sue Flocke, PhD. The CPCRN at Case is one of eight networks in the US whose goal is to reduce the burden of cancer through collaborative, community-centered efforts. Cimperman was responsible for confirming contact with 300 randomly selected health centers to participate in the study as well as following up with centers through the recruitment process. Through her internship, she notes that “I learned there are a lot of moving parts in collaborative studies. Everyone has to be on the same page in order for the study to move forward, which is one aspect that made this internship both challenging and rewarding.”
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