The animated stick figures that fill up the screen in a new video on act4kidsnow.org are not for playing Hangman or a last-minute drawing for a sixth grade science fair poster.
Instead, they were carefully composed to the tell the story of the 424,000 children in the United States who are temporarily separated from their families and placed in the care of foster parents, according to the Center for the Advancement of Child Welfare Practice.
The video was created by staff of the center, along with a few University of South Florida students. It is part of the center’s new quality parenting initiative that seeks to further educate and train foster families about child behaviors and recruit new caring parents.
“A problem we were having is that parents have been recruited on a need basis. They’re brought in out of desperation. What can we do to get lots of really quality people in touch with the system?” asks Don Policella.
The video took about five months to create. Policella, who is a program director at the Florida Mental Health Institute, put together a panel of eight staff members and students who made the video and recruited Aaron Hutcheson, a USF music student, to provide the scoring.
“One challenge was getting everyone who was working on the video trained on what they needed to know about this program,” says Ron Menard, a web content administrator who worked on the project.
“We needed to communicate that children wind up in foster care for different reasons,” says Lisa Coy, who has also done research for the center and worked on the video.
The end product communicates that many children end up in foster homes for myriad reasons. Some parents are physically or emotionally unable to care for their children while others have problems with substance abuse or violence.
The staff hopes that the video will create a higher public interest in helping these kids. The video describes ways to help foster children such as tutoring, fund raising, sponsoring summer camps, and painting play rooms. Of course the ultimate assistance would be to become a foster parent, which the video covers as well.
The video ends with short clips of foster parents talking about their experiences in and encouraging others to join them. According to Family Service Department of Orlando, over 3,000 kids have been adopted or taken into foster care over the past three years.
Policella says that they are already receiving positive feedback from the state level and hopes that they will have good results when they assess the video’s effects next year.
More colleges in the United States are offering certificate programs as a way for students to gain a short-term, skills-based education in a large variety of areas that range from film and urban studies to community development and music.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 805,755 certificates were conferred nationally as of the 2009 school year. Those numbers grew from 710,873 in 2005. According to their web page, USF has 112 graduate certificate programs that have been offered since 2005. The College of Arts and Sciences web page also features eight undergraduate certificates.
The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences debuted its own undergraduate certificate, the Research Intensive Student Experience (RISE), last year that focuses on introducing students to research in the field of their choosing.
“You want to make the research come alive,” says Kathleen Moore, a professor and undergraduate research coordinator.
The Research Intensive Student Experience (RISE) focuses on this the “live” research by pairing students with research mentors in their field of interest through the Continuous Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) that coincides with the RISE program. They also take frequent field trips to research-specific locations, such as upcoming trips to schools for the visually impaired.
The RISE program can last up to four years, however, if the students choose to join the program during their junior or senior year, the are allowed to catch up on the required classes that accompany their research.
Eight students were accepted for the program’s spring semester, and about half of them stayed on. College dean, Catherine Batsche, says she hopes the program will grow to about 20 students per semester.
RISE students Ioanna Tagarelli and Yunet Holmes are working in the Neurophysiology of Aging lab.
“This experience has better equipped us for the Doctor of Audiology program we will be applying for in the fall of 2012,” says Holmes.
Tagarelli notes that her experience has gone beyond the clinical.
“It has helped us realize that research is more than just statistics, and can have a personal aspect on the lives of many,” says Tagarelli.
Professors and advisors of the college hope the program will continue to expand, giving students a variety of options to grow academically as many other certificate programs have been doing over the past several years.
Even grown men were convinced to don silly hats, wave pom poms and perform giddy antics in front of a camera during the University of South Florida’s first fight song video contest, over the past four months.
According to Ayo Taylor Dixon, a director in the Athletic Department who helped organize the contest, USF’s intention was to create a way to attach the sense of pride and tradition USF fans have to the words of the song.
“We wanted to wrap the raw emotion for the fight song because people are usually singing it at an exciting time,” said Dixon.
Despite this objective for enthusiasm, some fans looked as if they had a bad breakfast before filming. In one video, a college student mumbled the words in a monotone voice while occasionally shifting his eyes sheepishly to make sure no one was watching.
This performance was not the norm. Many of the videos were entertaining and even comical. They ranged from animated students shooting a video of themselves singing at the top of their lungs in a dorm room, to shy children giggling and running away from the camera, to large companies that even included backdrops and special lighting in their videos.
Krista Kutash, a professor and director in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, said their video consisted of about 20 faculty members. She said it was harder to convince the men to sing, especially when they added cue cards for swaying and other theatrics in the video, but they had some real troupers who helped them make the video fun.
For Kutash, making the video went beyond quirky merriment though.
“It’s important that students understand tradition at school is carried out by students and faculty,” says Kutash.
All of their group wore the OUR shirts that are sold in the bookstore every year to show unity.
Although their group had more traditional values in mind when they began shooting their videos, some of their members got so engaged with filming the videos, they decided to make more for each of their departments. Catherine Batsche, the dean of the college, merged all six of the videos created to make one longer video.
The contest, which has been going on since June, closed recently to begin the selection process. Many of the videos are now on the contest’s website and the top three chosen by the selection committee are being voted on. The top three spots went to groups from Hooters, Pepin Distributing, and Sage Publishing. The winner and six runner-ups will have their videos shown on the video board at Raymond James stadium during a home game.