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2018 International Engagement Award Recipients

NeonatalEmpowering healthcare workers in developing countries through training, improving food security with urban gardens, and developing healthier, sustainable lifestyles through clean cookstoves are the focus of three Ohio State projects recognized for their international impact. The 2018 International Engagement Award recipients include: “The Ohio State University Neonatal Survival Program” (Distinguished International Engagement Award); and  “Our Common Home: A Youth-Based Approach to Food Security” and “ONIL Clean Cookstoves Initiative” (Emerging International Engagement Award). The projects will be recognized at the University Engagement Recognition Awards on May 2, 10:30 a.m. in the Ohio Union, U.S. Bank Conference Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP at go.osu.edu/awardsceremony.

Distinguished International Engagement Award

The Neonatal Survival Program is led by Diane Gorgas, MD, and has contributed to the global reduction in neonatal deaths through intensive and targeted training and empowerment of local healthcare workers in Haiti and East Africa since 2013. With a proven method of creating culturally appropriate clinical training and mentorship opportunities, Ohio State has educated over 900 nurses, physicians and healthcare workers to efficiently and effectively assess newborns and provide needed interventions leading to improved outcomes.

The program's design is based on a sustainable education platform, which quickly enable local healthcare providers to become skilled educators. The key to its success has been introducing Westernized training concepts in a culturally sensitive way, through studying the target districts, their perception of newborn care and the community's interaction with neonatal survival throughout the survival spectrum, from maternal health to family integration to care of the critically ill neonate. The curriculum is continuously revised for use in low income countries, but was developed by physician and nurse educators at Ohio State and Nationwide Children's Hospital, in conjunction with in-country African and Haitian partners including Partners in Health, University of Dodoma and WE Charity.

Emerging International Engagement Award

Our Common Home: A Youth-Based Approach to Food Security

OurCommonHomeOur Common Home: A Youth-Based Approach to Food Security came to fruition out of common challenges facing the sister cities of Columbus, Ohio, and Accra, Ghana. These issues included food insecurity, climate change and youth disengagement. The vision was to connect the two communities through urban gardens cultivated by youth, along with cross-cultural exchanges, to mutually improve urban food security, promote climate resilient systems and positively develop youth.

An interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff and students from Ohio State started this project by using a community development model to identify pre-existing capital across social, cultural and natural dimensions that informed which community partners to engage and where to locate the gardens. Two barren plots of land at YMCA facilities in Columbus and Accra have been revitalized into urban gardens. Intentionally structured youth activities were designed using 4-H's "Positive Youth Development" model to nurture life and livelihood skills in youth through trained, caring adult mentors. Youth engaged in the project were also guided by pre-existing youth gardening curriculum to teach climate-resilient gardening techniques appropriate for each geography.

Approximately 50 youth have been engaged at both sites so far, experientially learning new skills. The Sister City relationship enhanced the impact of this project by also enabling an exchange visit in order to build cultural awareness and competency towards addressing the issues of climate change and food security. Three young girls and two adult men, representing 4-H Ghana and Greater Accra YMCA, visited Columbus and surrounding areas August 2017.

Community Partners Involved: YMCA of Central Ohio and North YMCA, Ghana YMCA and Greater Accra YMCA, 4-H Ghana, Greater Columbus Sister Cities International

Ohio State Partners Involved: 4-H Youth Development; Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership; Mershon Center for International Security Studies; Center for African Studies; School of Environment and Natural Resources; Franklin County Extension; Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT); Collegiate 4-H

ONIL Clean Cookstoves Initiative

ONILProject Nicaragua, a non-profit student organization at Ohio State, volunteers and advocates for sustainable projects in the fields of nutrition, socioeconomic development, water quality and education. The chapter developed a strong relationship with Escuela Tierra Prometida, an agricultural and technical school in Rancho Grande, Nicaragua. Since 2015, Project Nicaragua has replaced traditional, open-flame stoves with ONIL clean cookstoves. The chapter works with five students in Rancho Grande who oversee the day-to-day operations and hope to create a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle for families, decrease air pollution and lower biofuel costs.

This year, Project Nicaragua hopes to enhance this project by developing a study to determine the primary factors in the community's adoption of these clean cookstoves - projected health and economic benefits or other financial, political, religious and social cultural values. They also hope to learn if stove recipient families' perceived health and economic changes after use of the stove. The plan is to continue installing stoves through the selection of 20 new stove recipients in Rancho Grande. In addition to conducting surveys, data also will be collected through Stove Use Monitoring Systems to measure actual stove use. Project Nicaragua seeks to understand the perception gap so it can be filled and the community empowered. Project Nicaragua partners with College of Public Health Dean William Martin, Environmental Health Sciences Assistant Professor Olorunfemi Adetona, Helps International and Love in Action.

For more information about the University Outreach and Engagement Awards, visit engage.osu.edu.