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Family creates Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation in honor of late OU graduate

Inspired by their daughter’s memory, the parents of an Oakland University graduate and psychology major who was killed last June in a car crash on I-75 have established the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation as a way to keep their daughter’s legacy alive while continuing to support the research she was passionate about at OU.

“Shelby was a kind, generous, passionate, strong and intelligent person,” said Marc Seyburn, Shelby’s father. “It was her passion for the Posttraumatic Growth lab at Oakland University that inspired us to create the foundation. Shelby had a vision for the PTG program, and we wanted to help support that vision because there are so many people that could be affected by this research.”

Posttraumatic Growth, or PTG, is defined as the positive psychological changes that can occur through the struggle with traumatic experiences, with the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways.

“The current direction of health psychology is to help people to be more resilient,” said Kanako Taku, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at OU and Shelby’s mentor. “But Shelby and I discussed that while that may be good, if we help people to continue struggling instead of bouncing back quickly, then there may be a deeper or broader sense of personal growth. Shelby thought maybe we don’t have to be resilient; maybe we can still be vulnerable and experience personal growth.”

According to Taku, Shelby joined the PTG lab in the fall of 2015 and specialized in the study of PTG in adolescents.

“She had always been interested in this particular age group and found that there are numerous areas with undiscovered information,” Taku said. “Generally, Shelby explored the different mental states and personalities of adolescence before and after they experience trauma, along with looking at the different levels of trauma and social support.”

Prior to her death, Shelby Seyburn worked in the PTG Lab for two years, and spent the last year as lab manager.

“Shelby was my mentor in the lab,” said Velinka Marton, a junior at OU. “Between school and family, she was spread in so many different directions, but she always made sure everyone else in the lab was doing OK. She was a very nurturing and loving person.”

As a member of Dr. Taku’s lab, Shelby was able to become a published author and speak at national conferences. She also helped establish the “Teen Parent Program” within the Department of Psychology. The program is designed to reach teen parents through a psychoeducation that encourages them to think about PTG and build social support.

“Pontiac has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Michigan, and Michigan has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S.,” said Whitney Dominick, a third-year Ph.D. student at OU who worked with Seyburn in the PTG lab. “This is a major problem because teen parents are much more likely to drop out of high school early, not be able to find a stable job, and they’re also at risk for pre-term births, postpartum depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Shelby really wanted to focus on how we could help these teen parents.”

According to Dominick, the goal of the Teen Parent Program was to foster a sense of social support.

“Shelby wanted the teen parents to connect with each other and be able to have that social support with each other, the school staff and with us on the research team at Oakland University,” Dominick said. “She also wanted to educate them about posttraumatic growth, about how they could experience this, and how they could help other people, thereby extending that social support.”

Initially funded by a $1,500 Community Engagement Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences, Dominick said the Teen Parent Initiative will be able to continue thanks to the generous support of the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation.

“I think Shelby would love it,” she said. “Shelby was very passionate about her research, which really focused a lot of social support. This program (the Teen Parent Program) really helps with that aspect by helping people get involved, and I think she would appreciate knowing that it was going to continue.”

Currently, the program has only been implemented in one school in the Pontiac area, but with funding provided by the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation, Dr. Taku is hopeful it can be expanded to other areas.

“Shelby’s passion is still alive and this is a great way to continue her legacy,” Dr. Taku said.

In addition to funding PTG research at Oakland University and helping to expand the Teen Parent Program, the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation will also help fund undergraduate and graduate student travel to regional, national and international conferences via “travel grants.”

The grants are specifically targeted toward students in the Oakland University Psychology Department that are participating in a research lab and desire to attend a professional conference to present materials. All psychology students participating in a lab at Oakland are eligible to apply for the grant, which will vary in amount between $250 and $500. The grants can be used for travel, lodging, registration and meals.

“I think it’s very rare for something like this to happen,” said Lauren Harrison, a research assistant at OU who joined the PTG lab in the winter of 2016. “Typically, if a child passes away, the family mourns; but something massive like this, that has multiple purposes, doesn’t really emerge. I think it’s very admirable, and a perfect way to honor Shelby’s memory.”

For more information about the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation, or to make a donation, visit shelbystrong.life.

To learn more about OU’s Department of Psychology, visit oakland.edu/psychology.


OU Anthropology professor deploys drone to combat hunger in Africa

Oakland University professor Jon Carroll, Ph.D., is part of a pioneering team of scholars harnessing the latest advances in science and technology to promote sustainable agriculture in Africa. 
 
Carroll recently traveled to Liwonde, Malawi to work on a research project helping farmers boost crop production in the face of mounting threats posed by climate change. The project, called “Precision Agriculture for Smallholder Systems in Africa,” is part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, and Kansas State University’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab.
 
Carroll worked extensively with the Center for Global Change while in graduate school at Michigan State and was asked to join the project because of his expertise in using unmanned aerial vehicles for various research endeavors. These include archaeological excavations in Israel and a historical survey of Chateau de Balleroy, a 17th-century castle in Normandy, France.
 
“They knew of the work I had been doing in different parts of the world, and they thought that drone capability would be a great asset to the project,” said Carroll, a Registered Professional Archaeologist, FAA-licensed drone pilot and assistant professor in OU’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice.

So, how can a drone be used to counter the ill effects of climate change on crops in Africa and elsewhere? It starts with high-precision aerial photography that drones can provide to help researchers assess crop health.
 
As Carroll explained, “What we are doing is bringing highly detailed aerial imagery together with weather station data to understand what’s going on with these farm fields. This approach is widely available in the U.S., but in Africa they simply don’t have access to these technologies.”
 
The drone captures images with special cameras that allow researchers to quantify how much water and chlorophyll is in the plants. It also allows for 3-D measurements of plants in different parts of the field. Based on this data, researchers can recommend potential solutions to low crop yields.
 
“The answer could be water or fertilizer, or it may be that they are growing the wrong types of crops for that soil,” Carroll said.

Researchers are also working to develop models that can better predict seasonal and environmental patterns, which have been disrupted by climate change.

According to USAID, recurring droughts have ravaged Malawi’s agriculture sector, threatening the livelihoods of Malawi’s smallholder farmers, who constitute 80 percent of the country's population. In addition, 38 percent of Malawians live below the poverty line and 47 percent of children have stunted growth.

“It’s a big problem, potentially disastrous.” Carroll said. “We went down there in February because that’s their growing season, and it didn’t rain once while we were there.”
 
Carroll’s research team worked in conjunction with other research groups, which included government officials and scholars from Malawi and other places. Aside from the influx of visitors, the appearance of a flying object was a source of fascination for children and families in the community.

“This is an area where people are just not used to seeing this type of technology, so any time that I flew the drone, we always had a crowd,” he recalled. “Entire families would come out to see what was going on, and I would make it a point to try to explain to the people what we were doing and answer their questions, either in English or through an interpreter.”
 
Carroll called his time in Malawi “one of the most profound” research experiences of his life.
 
“I’ve worked in different parts of the world, usually on archaeological questions, and most of the people that I study have been gone for hundreds or thousands of years,” he explained. “This was a very different kind of project because I was surrounded by the people who were going to be affected by this research.”
 
Carroll lauded the College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice for their support of his work and for helping put Oakland at the forefront of drone-driven, global research efforts.
 
“This is one capability we have that many other institutions in the region don’t,” he said. “Oakland is leading the way in using drone technology in different parts of the world, and for different purposes. None more urgent than helping those whose survival depends on achieving sustainable food production.”

Mentorship group for child entrepreneurs wins Pontiac SOUP seed funding prize

More than 100 people invested in the community of Pontiac at the latest Pontiac SOUP event this past Saturday, March 3. They gathered to choose the winner of the micro-granting contest and dinner. The winner, Young Entrepreneurs Squad Foundation, walked away with $802 to help get their project off the ground.

This was the second Pontiac SOUP event and the first of 2018. The organization, which comes from the original Detroit SOUP concept, plans on carrying out the events four to five times a year from here on out.

"Pontiac SOUP is a beautiful thing because when you are a new organization and don't have all the funding, every cent helps," says YES Foundation founder Mary Evans.

YES Foundation offers children ages six to ten years old mentorship services, entrepreneurship training, workforce development, and more. These are real businesses that kids are running, says Evans, ranging in businesses that make and sell ice cream, jewelry, bow ties, and more--and all owned and operated by children in the six to ten age range.

Pontiac SOUP has the stated goal of providing seed funding for organizations doing great work in the city of Pontiac. At the events, four finalists are chosen to present on behalf of their organizations, and the audience participates in a Q&A session with each. The five dollar cover is put toward the cash prize. It's also a social event, with performances from local artists and a dinner. Attendees then vote on a winner.

The organization also tries to connect the runners-up with resources like business plan counseling and public speaking coaching.

"We're looking for what makes the greatest impact, to get it off the ground or take a project to the next level," says Pontiac SOUP co-founder Scott Stewart.

Click HERE to learn more about Pontiac SOUP and its forthcoming events.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Scarlet's Park clears more hurdles, closer to reality

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Scarlet’s Park in Commerce Township has cleared significant hurdles with legal agreements between Commerce Township and the nonprofit foundation Scarlet’s Smile to bring the specialty park to the area.

The park honors 5-year-old Scarlet who is battling Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS.) There is no cure.

Read more

Judson Center will honor National Autism Awareness Month with Bring Autism to Light

During the month of April, Judson Center will be honoring National Autism Awareness month as we Bring Autism to Light for world Autism Day (officially April 2nd).  The community is invited to the Autism2Light ceremony, as we light up 5th Avenue in downtown Royal Oak.

Autism2Light will be held on Monday, April 2 from 6-7pm on 5th Avenue, east of Washington Avenue.

Autism2Light is a family friendly ceremony that promotes understanding and awareness for autism.   With support from English Gardens, trees on 5th Avenue will officially light up in blue (the color for autism awareness) with the help of Judson Center President and CEO, Lenora Hardy Foster and City of Royal Oak leadership.  The Autism2Light ceremony will also include refreshments and the opportunity to pick up a free LED blue lightbulb for your home.

“We are excited to Bring Autism to Light to downtown Royal Oak and share this moment with our Judson Center families and supporters in the community.  We hope this event encourages awareness, understanding and most importantly, a dialogue that encourages acceptance for people impacted by autism," shared Lenora Hardy-Foster, President and CEO.

A preliminary kickoff to Bring Autism to Light will begin on Monday, March 19th, when Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier along with the City Commissioners, will present, for the second year in a row, an autism proclamation honoring National Autism Awareness Month and the life changing programs at Judson Center’s Autism Connections.  Royal Oak is also urging all employees, residents and members of the business community to join the movement.

Judson Center’s Royal Oak campus will shine bright in blue thanks to the support of English Gardens, and the community is invited to stop by Judson Center and pick up their free lightbulb, or visit any of Royal Oak’s three fire stations or the Royal Oak Public Library. 

Companies can also participate and Bring Autism to Light by shining blue for autism, designating a day to wear blue for autism awareness, and making a donation to Judson Center’s Autism Connections.

“The Bring Autism to Light campaign is now in its second year.  It was a huge success last year and we expect it to be one this year, because the need for services in Metro Detroit is growing, and so is the need for understanding.  Bring Autism to Light, truly does that. We want families to know, you are not alone and at Judson Center, we hear you, see you, and want to help," shared Lenora Hardy-Foster.

Since 2005, Judson Center’s Autism Connections program has been providing comprehensive services to the entire family impacted by autism.  Currently one in 68 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and in Michigan, there are over 50,000 individuals living with ASD.

For more information on how to get involved in Bring Autism to Light, visit www.judsoncenter.org, or contact Kayla Collins at 248-837-2007 or kayla_collins@judsoncenter.org.

Downtown leaders across Oakland Co. gather to learn the value of trails

Excerpt

Bikes, snowmobiles and boats are all popular ways for people to connect with the great outdoors. And communities throughout the country have learned how to capitalize on trailways to bring recreation users into their Downtowns. Lessons from those successful communities could help others attract new visitors and businesses, and Oakland County Main Street provided the perfect opportunity to share them at their two-day conference in Ferndale last month.

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VIDEO: Art & Soul Dreams captures the soul of a child

In 2017, approximately 13,000 children resided in Michigan's foster care system. Of those, around 800 have little prospect of being returned to their homes. These children are in need of a "forever family." Art & Soul Dreams aims to make a difference in the lives of some of them.


Nonprofits and community groups from Oakland County Encouraged to apply for a Brooksie Way Minigrant

Not-for-profit organizations and community groups whose programming is designed to promote active lifestyles for Oakland County residents have until March 9 to apply for a Brooksie Way Minigrant.

The program has helped support nearly 150 projects throughout the county that range from a martial arts club for young people with cancer, a community garden and adult yoga classes to summer basketball camps and swimming lessons for children. Since it began in 2010, more than $200,000 in Brooksie Way minigrants has been distributed. The maximum award is $2,000.

They will be awarded April 24 at the kickoff for the 2018 McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon.

“This is one of the true legacies of The McLaren Brooksie Way and our family of races of which I am most proud,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “These minigrants continue to touch countless lives in our county, helping support the fitness programming so vital to our residents.”

Minigrant guidelines and applications as well as race registrations can be found at www.theBrooksieWay.com. Brooksie Way apparel and souvenir merchandise be purchased at the site too.

Patterson started the minigrant program as a way to put proceeds from the McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon back into the community. The Brooksie Way races, which include a 10k, 5k and “The Lil’ Brooksie” children’s race, were named in honor of Brooks Stuart Patterson, a young father and the son of the county executive, who died in 2007.

The 11th running of the McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon is set for Sept. 23. The race, which can be run or walked, has become one of the most popular regional fall half marathons. The course begins and ends at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the campus of Oakland University and includes parts of the Clinton River and Paint Creek trails, Rochester Hills and downtown Rochester. MLive readers named the Brooksie as one of the top courses in Michigan.


Sandy Dorey recognized as outstanding therapeutic recreation professional

Sandy Dorey, recreation program supervisor for Oakland County Parks and Recreation, received the Karen Medve Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Therapeutic Recreation Profession from mParks, the Michigan Recreation & Park Association. Dorey, a Clawson resident, received the award at the organization’s annual conference Feb. 7 in Detroit.

A recreation therapist with Oakland County Parks and Recreation (OCPR) for more than 25 years, Dorey has established numerous adaptive recreation programs, served on various committees, partnered with community organizations and assisted local residents with finding the best services for their families.

“There’s great satisfaction that comes from matching a person with a disability to a recreation experience,” she said. “It can be as simple as having participants attend our monthly dances where they spend time with friends or helping a person that has recently had a stroke learn how to get back in the game of golf. The connection that I make with participants and their families is rewarding.”

Oakland County Parks and Recreation is a leader in adaptive recreation, which provides opportunities for individuals of all ages with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. These programs foster a sense of community and offer a supportive environment for participants and caregivers.

February is National Recreation Therapeutic Recreation Month. Sponsored by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, it raises awareness about therapeutic recreation programs and the role it plays in improving health and well-being of participants.

OCPR’s therapeutic recreation activities are designed to encourage creative expression, maximize enjoyment of the outdoors and promote fun leisure experiences. At the parks, a variety of adaptive equipment is available, including adaptive golf carts, pedal boats, pool transfer chairs, picnic tables, all-terrain trail and beach chairs and hand cycles. There are also paved trails in the parks and campsites, cabins and yurts with accessible features.

For additional information, call 248-424-7081 or email Adaptive@oakgov.com.


Age-friendly in the future: Engineering contest has students thinking about seniors' needs

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In Valdada, in the year 2065, senior citizens get help from Herbie, a robotic personal assistant that can cook, clean, have conversations and even use Braille to communicate with the visually impaired.

"It looks like us, but it's animatronic," said Joseph Waller, an eighth-grader from New Era Christian School, who explained Valdada — and Herbies — to visitors at Novi's Suburban Collection Showplace. "It's made by Apple, so you know it's good."

Read more
 

Food drive adds new twist to Milford's MLK Day event

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Organizers of the annual Huron Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration will collect soup ingredients the first 14 days of January. 

They’re asking shoppers at Kroger and Matti’s Fresh Market to add seven ingredients to their shopping lists and to donate that food after buying it.

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County employees set record for Casual Day donations

Oakland County employees donated a record amount of nearly $60,000 to support local charities this year through the county’s Casual Day program, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said during a special ceremony today in downtown Birmingham. On Casual Day, employees in participating departments and divisions may donate $1 to wear jeans or dress casually.

Patterson presented 21 organizations with checks totaling $30,500 during the event. Receiving Casual Day funds for the first time was Clarkston Community Schools Media Center, Humble Design in Pontiac, Neighbor for Neighbor in Springfield Twp., and Scarlet’s Smile in Commerce Twp. County employees also donated $19,484 during a special Casual Week from Thursday, Aug. 31 – Friday, Sept. 8 to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Employees gave an additional $9,700 during four Special Casual Days this year. A Special Casual Day is one that has a designated recipient.

“Oakland County employees are among the most generous individuals I know,” Patterson said. “They are eager to help not only our Oakland County neighbors but also our neighbors 1,000 miles away. Casual Day is just one of the many ways our employees give back to the community.”

This year’s 21 Casual Day recipients were:
  • American Diabetes Association, Southfield
  • Canine Advocacy Program, Novi
  • CARE House, Pontiac
  • Children’s Village Foundation, Pontiac
  • Clarkston Community Schools Media Center, Clarkston
  • D-MAN Foundation, Rochester Hills
  • Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Grace Centers of Hope, Pontiac
  • Helping Hearts Helping Hands, Clarkston
  • Humble Design, Pontiac
  • Kids Kicking Cancer, Southfield
  • Neighbor for Neighbor, Springfield
  • Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society, Pontiac
  • Operation Injured Soldiers, South Lyon
  • Oxford/Orion FISH, Lake Orion
  • Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Rochester
  • Pink Ribbon Trail Blazers, Lake Orion
  • Scarlet’s Smile, Commerce
  • The Rainbow Connection, Rochester
  • Toys for Tots, Waterford
  • Walk the Line to Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, Southfield
Since its inception in 1993, Oakland County employees have donated over $850,000, touching the lives of thousands of people. No taxpayer funds are used in the Casual Day program.
 

20,000 holiday gifts flying to 6,400 Michigan children thanks to Operation Good Cheer

Excerpt

Organized chaos would be the best way to describe the scene inside the hangar at Pentastar Aviation in Waterford the morning of Friday, December 1.

Over 20,000 gifts and hundreds of volunteers packed the facility, 7310 Highland Road, as Operation Good Cheer was in full swing. The annual initiative provides gifts to more than 6,400 foster care children, and adults, across Michigan.

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Helping hands: Library, robotics team partner to produce limbs for kids

Excerpt

There’s giving a hand – and there’s giving 200 hands.

That’s one of this year’s goals for the Novi Public Library. Partnering with the Novi High School robotics team, the library is working to establish itself as an official chapter of e-NABLE, joining the group’s grassroots effort to create free 3D-printed limbs for kids overseas who’ve lost a hand, arm or fingers due to war, disease or natural disaster.

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Spread warmth this winter with Coats for the Cold

The warmth of your generosity could help those less-fortunate this winter. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is accepting donations of new or clean, used coats through November 30th as part of their 30th annual “Coats for the Cold” coat drive.

Donated coats will be sent to a variety of local charitable organizations, who in turn distribute the coats to community members most in need.



“Coats for the Cold is an easy way for the community to reach out and help someone less fortunate stay warm this winter,” Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said. “For the past 29 years, we have worked with local charitable organizations to provide free coats to those in need. The community’s generosity has been wonderful every year.”

Spotlight | Coats for the Cold Drop-Off Sites

This year’s coat drive is sponsored by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with 1-800-Self-Storage.comCOWS (Container on Wheels Mobile Storage)Real Estate OneGenisys Credit UnionAmp97 Detroit, and several other Oakland County charitable organizations.

As a special promotion this year, coat donors will receive $10 off of the cost of a pet adoption at the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center for each of the first five coats donated (limit $50).

If you’d like to know more about Coats for the Cold and other Community Outreach Initiatives of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, visit their website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
280 Community Building Articles | Page: | Show All
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