Two collaborative projects have been announced as the 2019 winners of the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts & Wellness Innovation Awards. The winning teams, comprising UCF personnel and community organizations, were each awarded $25,000 to further their interdisciplinary arts and wellness projects.

The winning initiatives are “Creative Approaches to Combat HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Health Providers” and “Project Xavier Hands-free Training Game.”

There were 18 proposals submitted for the two awards. Each team must involve the College of Arts and Humanities and at least one other college, unit or center from the university. Preference is given to initiatives that are interdisciplinary, community-focused and sustainable, and the projects must contain an evaluation framework.

“We are delighted by the quality and quantity of applications proposing a broad range of innovative arts and wellness initiatives between campus and community,” says Margery Pabst-Steinmetz, who with her husband co-founded the foundation supporting the awards.

The awards were founded in 2018 by the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation to build sustainable models for arts and wellness innovation at UCF and the Central Florida community. The inaugural year’s winning projects focused on the effects of reading on aging populations and of providing multimedia messages about positive parenting in multiple languages.

The 2019 recipients are:

Creative Approaches to Combat HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Health Providers

  • Christa L. Cook, associate professor of nursing, College of Nursing
  • Blake Scott, professor, Department of Writing and Rhetoric
  • Nathan Holic, associate lecturer, Department of Writing and Rhetoric
  • Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium (in partnership with the Florida Department of Health and Florida statewide Stigma Task Force)
  • Central Florida HIV service providers

The researchers will draw on their qualitative research expertise and community connections to collect and analyze data about stigmatizing interactions between HIV care providers and patients/clients by partnering with local organizations. They will use interview and focus group findings to produce short, scenario-based videos and comics that can quickly and impactfully illustrate specific forms stigma can take in provider-client communication, how stigma affects patients, and alternatives to stigmatizing language. The production process will involve designing video scripts and comic storyboards, and then commissioning UCF student videographers and a professional cartoonist. The partner organizations will assist in the evaluation of the materials from a provider perspective, and the researchers will work with additional partners to incorporate the materials in education and training for UCF students and for area physicians/providers.

Christa Cook, a primary investigator on the project, sees a need for student involvement. “Students often have novel perspectives and contributions…. [They] are looking at a phenomenon with a fresh perspective,” she says.

Project Xavier Hands-free Training Game

  • Matt Dombrowski, assistant professor of emerging media, School of Visual Arts & Design
  • Albert Manero, president, Limbitless Solutions
  • Peter Smith, assistant professor of game design, Nicholson School of Communication and Media
  • Bjorn Oskarsson, MD, FAAN senior associate consultant neurology, Jacksonville director ALS and MDA clinics
  • Angie Carloss, project manager, Limbitless Solutions

Project Xavier brings together a multidisciplinary team of UCF artists, game designers and engineers, as well as the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville, to provide new mobility solutions for a population with limited or no mobility. The technology uses EMG sensors placed on the patient’s temporalis muscles (on the sides of the forehead) to control a powered wheelchair. The funding will allow the research team to create a game-like training instrument that patients will use to advance their learning of the mechanics of the wheelchair device and train in a low-stress environment.

“This type of training could be quite instrumental in improving the capability for the next stage of clinical trials for the Xavier system, and will support the community served by these clinical trials,” says Dombrowski, a primary researcher on the project. “The Pabst Steinmetz award plays an instrumental role in the production and testing of this experience. All of our partners are so thankful of receiving this support from the foundation.”