Georgia Southern’s College of Education Establishes Research Center Dedicated to Advocating Youth Rights

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For more than 30 years, the National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference (NYAR) at Georgia Southern University (formerly the National Conference on Youth at Risk) has served as an epicenter of information sharing and progress for supporting young people facing challenges across the country. The conference recently led to the establishment of the NYAR Research Center, an interdisciplinary facility hosted at the Georgia Southern College of Education (COE) to further strengthen the conference’s efforts to support young people across the country.

Beginning in spring 2022, the NYAR Research Center will begin conducting research and developing evidence-based practices to support college professors, educators, community partners, and other adults impacting youth. NYAR conference co-chairs Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., and Taylor Norman, Ph.D. kicked off the proposal for the Center and brought together a group of faculty and administrators from several Georgia Southern colleges to support cutting-edge and interdisciplinary projects. research that will have the greatest impact on advocacy and youth resilience.

“Every year at the NYAR conference, adults who work with the youth of our country come together to discuss how we can make a difference for our youth who face challenges in many different directions,” said Norman. “To make our efforts intentional and focused, we are using Georgia Southern University faculty and staff to formally pool our resources and centralize our efforts impacting the lives of our youth.”

The research and work of the NYAR Research Center is based on five areas of interaction developed by a team including Coredlia Zinskie, Ed.D. of the WCC, which have an impact on the academic, social and emotional well-being of young people. Referred to as the Five H’s, the areas of interaction include: leading intellectual achievement and leading school; heart for social and emotional skills; hands for safety and protection; health for physical and mental health; and a home for family and community support.

“Through the Center, faculty will engage in interdisciplinary research alongside community partnerships to help young people overcome conditions that threaten their safety, health, emotional needs and / or intellectual development,” Leckie said. “This research will serve to inform practice, create evidence-based professional development and implement change not only in schools, but also in community programs, the juvenile justice system, universities, families. and beyond.”

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The Center aligns with the University’s mission to be a public impact institution, including the five designated research impact areas.

“Specifically, the NYAR Research Center will advance the University’s efforts to impact the region and beyond in the areas of community enrichment as well as holistic fitness and wellness.” said COE Dean Sharon Subreenduth, Ph.D.

The NYAR Center will open under the co-supervision of two faculty members from Georgia Southern. Applications for co-directors will be collected this fall.

Although the center is housed within the WCC, efforts to launch the NYAR Research Center are strongly supported by a diverse team of faculty and administrators including: Maya Clark, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Science and Disorders communication at Waters College of Health Professions; Daniel Larkin, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Arts and Humanities; William Mase, DrPH, associate professor of health policy and management, and Joseph Telfair, DrPH., Associate dean for practice and research at Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health; Chad Posick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Katy Gregg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Child and Family Development, and Brenda Blackwell, Ph.D., Professor and Dean associated with the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; Juliann McBrayer, Ed.D., associate professor of educational leadership, and Tracy Linderholm, Ph.D., COE associate dean for administration and faculty affairs.


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