Maddie Welsh, a junior in the School of Social Work, who is also pursuing a minor Criminology, Law, and Society, worked with Rachel Garthe, an assistant professor of social work, and Jennea Klingenberg, Lead Clinical Professional at Urbana Middle School, to identify culturally and developmentally appropriate interventions or prevention programs for students experiencing behavioral and/or mental health issues, including African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Dual Language students, and to examine the relationship between attendance and the need for such interventions.
Urbana Middle School (UMS) has a mission to foster academic excellence and social-emotional intelligence built on high expectations and accountability and to provide an equitable, engaging, and collaborative community of learning for all. Klingenberg sees this collaboration as an opportunity to support some of the individuals responsible for achieving that mission. “The resources and website that Maddie created will act as the vessel of information to support middle school support staff. Having resources on hand allows students, families, and staff to obtain services needed for a better quality of life, work, and academic support. In turn, individuals are supported with the management of their social-emotional and mental health well-being.”
While Welsh and Garthe have been working together since the scholar’s first semester on campus, Garthe was impressed with Welsh’s work on this project and the impact it had in the community. “This summer Maddie critically analyzed programs and resources, made informed recommendations, and created comprehensive resources for mental health professionals at UMS.”
For Welsh, the most meaningful part of the experience was getting to know other individuals that have similar views and realizing the work she was doing was an important piece of the framework to enhance the lives of youth. “This opportunity really helped me to reach outside of my comfort zone and made me realize that I can become an important part of my community and make an impact in the lives of those around me.”
Learn more about the project by watching Maddie Welsh’s research lighting talk.