SGU’s Department of Bioethics Delivers Crash Course in Conscious Discipline

Can a family and the community be trained to create a positive environment within which children can reach their potential?  Dr. Barbara Landon, among a growing group of psychologists and behaviorists, thinks so – and is offering free, intense, training to a diverse audience of parents, teachers, caregivers and other.

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Beginning Tuesday, February 25, Dr. Barbara Landon will present her crash course in Conscious Discipline condensing an eight-month-long training into eight weekly sessions. Free to the SGU community and wider public, the training is booked solid for this semester with 60 participants to attend in the morning at the Youth Centre in Grand Anse, and another 45 to attend in the evening at St. George’s University.

A neuropsychologist, licensed psychologist and professor within the School of Medicine, Dr. Landon introduced Conscious Discipline at SGU in 2009 and the program has grown immensely since then through support from the Departments of Bioethics and Educational Services, Reach Grenada, the GAP, and local educators and government officials. Conscious Discipline is an approach developed by psychologist and teacher Dr. Becky Bailey, whom Dr. Landon has worked with and considers a mentor. The program aims to promote social and emotional intelligence in children, positive atmospheres in families, and school environments that encourage learning rather than fear and bullying. It is brain-based and offers adults practical, evidence-based techniques for teaching children self control, conflict resolution, character development, and social skills.

“Our objective is to teach adults that discipline is not something we do to children but something we develop within them,” said Dr. Landon. “We have to help shape the brains of our children so they can grow into adults who can solve problems. Disciplining through fear not only doesn’t work, but also, negatively affects the way the brain develops. There are now several neuroimaging studies demonstrating that harsh parenting reduces gray matter in key areas of the brain; there are also hundreds of studies demonstrating the correlation of harsh parenting with poor social skills, reduced achievement, and criminal behavior. If we want children to learn and solve problems, we cannot govern them through fear and guilt.”

In the past, Dr. Landon has taught Conscious Discipline to persons at SGU’s Grand Anse Playgroup and Grenada Montessori and Preparatory School, as well as to teachers, guidance counselors, SGU staff, and faculty and caregivers at several Grenadian homes for children, and the program has definitely made some fans.

“Conscious Discipline is one of the most powerful, relevant and effective skills that everyoneshould seek to acquire and master,” said Nakazi Cornwall, an Executive Secretary at St. George’s University.

Teachers have also found immense value. Catherine Lalgie, a teacher of 2½- to 4-year-olds at Gateway Academy, gave Conscious Discipline a try after her principal recommended it.

“I was having some serious problems dealing with disciplining my students; I did not think I would continue after the first term,” she said. “I was skeptical at first, but when I tried Conscious Discipline for the first time in class, I was surprised to see how the children responded. At the end of my term, I no longer felt burnt out because of trying to discipline and I saw great changes in the behavior of the children. Conscious Discipline really works, and I know it can work for any child no matter which culture they are from.”

Dr. Landon hopes to begin offering Conscious Discipline training twice yearly. “We are trying to build the idea that adults can be mindful, and if adults are mindful, then they can teach their children to be mindful, which means they will be able to self-regulate, think logically and connect. If we could have this, we could have a completely different world.”

For more information on Conscious Discipline training or to indicate interest in upcoming trainings, please contact Dr. Landon at blandon@sgu.edu.

Lisa Allen-Agostini to Complete Novel, Poems During Spring Stay in Grenada

Trinidadian Named SGU’s First Writer-in-Residence

Selected from an esteemed group of applicants to be the University’s inaugural Writer-in-Residence, Lisa Allen-Agostini penned the young adult novel The Chalice Project, published in 2009, and co-edits the Trinidad Noir fiction anthology. In addition, she writes a weekly column for the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, and founded the Allen Prize for Young Writers, a program that supports and reward writers aged 12 to 19 in her home country.

“I’m honored to be the inaugural St. George’s University Writer-in-Residence,” said Allen-Agostini. “It’s not often that a writer gets such a generous opportunity, and a four-month stay in a different environment where I can focus completely on writing will no doubt help me complete some work I have been engaged with for some time.”

During her residency in Grenada, Ms. Allen-Agostini will work to complete both a novel and a collection of poems. She is also expected to give readings at SGU, local schools, libraries, writers organizations, and other institutions, with recordings of these readings made available to the SGU radio station and the Government Information Service in Grenada. In addition, Ms. Allen-Agostini will offer creative writing workshops at SGU, TA Marryshow Community College, and area schools, and keep office hours in order to consult with those at SGU and in the community.

“I think that the SGU community and Grenada community stand to benefit largely from Lisa being on board,” said Antonia MacDonald, Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, and Chair of the four-person selection committee. “She is a published author who works in different literary genres and whohas extensive experience   conducting creative writing workshops. Moreover, Lisa is both enthusiastic and committedso I’m very happy with the selection.”

To be eligible, applicants had to be over the age of 18, of Caribbean birth or citizenship, and have a track record of publishing literary writing, or in the case of playwrights, a history of having dramatic works performed for a public audience. In addition to providing an opportunity for the writer, the program will expose SGU and Grenada to the contemporary Caribbean literary scene.

St. George’s University Josh Project Recognized by Grenada Ministry of Health

Little children heading into surgery or in the throes of a debilitating disease need all the comfort they can get. SGU students have begun a project to give these children personal comfort kits, called a Josh Kit, to help them get through their ordeals. The Grenada Ministry of Health has presented a Certificate of Appreciation to St. George’s University’s Josh Project, which raises money to purchase Josh Kits.

Since its inception in 2011, SGU’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) students have donated more than 100 Josh Kits to hospitalized children in Grenada, and those traveling to the US through the Grenada Heart Foundation to undergo heart surgery. The kits include comfort items ranging from a plush, hypo-allergenic, stuffed golden retriever to an illustrated book called, “I’ll Be O.K.,” about a golden retriever named Josh and his trip to the hospital. For every kit distributed to a child in Grenada, the Josh and Friends Project also donates 10 percent of the proceeds from fundraising initiatives to the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization dedicated to advancing research, training, and care for pediatric settings.

“Our objective as vet students is to create that ‘animal-human’ bond and use it to provide comfort to sick children, so it’s amazing to be recognized for our efforts,” said Sylvia Cushman, Co-Chair of SCAVMA Animal Welfare and Behavior Committee.

“Our vision is to continue making a difference in the lives of children and to bring comfort in whatever way we can through the project,” added committee representative Amanda LaRose. “We realize that the Josh Project makes a huge difference not only in the lives of children, but also families, as they are similarly reassured.”

The Josh Project was founded by Dr. Randy Lange, a veterinarian from Knoxville, TN, who witnessed firsthand how terrifying it was for his daughter, and other patients, to go through minor surgery. The experience inspired Dr. Lange to write a book that explained the procedures and events in the hospital and was uplifting and warm. His inspiration led him to write about his golden retriever, Josh, and develop the Josh Kit. The Josh Project has helped to transform anxious hospital stays for children into friendship-filled adventures toward wellness.

The Josh Project was introduced at St. George’s University (SGU) in 2011 by School of Veterinary Medicine students Danielle Dunn and Sarah Hill. SGU’s SCAVMA chapter took third place for the Josh Challenge, an annual contest between SCAVMA chapters worldwide, for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Josh Challenge is a fun and exciting way for participating SCAVMA chapters around the world to promote friendly competition. The goal is to determine which chapter can raise the most money within their local community to place Josh puppies and books in the hands of hospitalized children. The institution raising the most money is declared the winner of the Josh Challenge.

SGU’s DPHPM Commissions Occupational Health and Safety Committee for Grenada Nutmeg Processing Plants

A committee has been put in place to monitor and address issues relating to occupational health and safety (OHS) at Grenada’s Gouyave nutmeg processing plant by St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM). The DPHPM, which has worked with the nutmeg industry since 2008, will train this committee to identify and address OHS issues, gradually handing over autonomy following intermittent training and monitoring. DPHPM will then continue to assist the committee in a technical advisory capacity.

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Director of DPHPM, Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, stressed the significance of OHS. “Any industry which wishes to participate in the global market must pay attention to OHS,” he said. “Consumers, especially from the US and Europe, and several other international organisations are concerned with whether goods are produced in a healthy environment and whether workers are being exploited or exposed to harmful agents.”

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC), which had its first meeting on March 7, is comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups including workers and managers at the Gouyave plant and representatives from the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA). Following their initial meeting and training sessions at SGU, the group journeyed to Gouyave for practical application of their training.

Although OHS often does not receive sufficient emphasis in Grenada, Dr. Elci foresees this changing. “It is going to get better. Once this starts, it is going to spread to other industries,” he said. Dr. Elci has 26 years of experience in the field of OHS and has worked in several industries including the highway construction, tea plantation and processing, garment, shoemaking and microwave popcorn industries.

Dr. Omur Cinar Elci says that the university and his department are happy to be assisting the nutmeg industry. “It is impossible to claim the name of public health or be a centre of excellence in education without seeking to give something measureable and sustainable back to the community. Especially in developing nations, we have a responsibility to pursue more than academic curiosity.”

SGU’s DPHPM Commissions Occupational Health and Safety Committee for Grenada Nutmeg Processing Plants

A committee has been put in place to monitor and address issues relating to occupational health and safety (OHS) at Grenada’s Gouyave nutmeg processing plant by St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM). The DPHPM, which has worked with the nutmeg industry since 2008, will train this committee to identify and address OHS issues, gradually handing over autonomy following intermittent training and monitoring. DPHPM will then continue to assist the committee in a technical advisory capacity.

news dphpm commissions occupational health safety committee

Director of DPHPM, Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, stressed the significance of OHS. “Any industry which wishes to participate in the global market must pay attention to OHS,” he said. “Consumers, especially from the US and Europe, and several other international organisations are concerned with whether goods are produced in a healthy environment and whether workers are being exploited or exposed to harmful agents.”

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC), which had its first meeting on March 7, is comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups including workers and managers at the Gouyave plant and representatives from the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA). Following their initial meeting and training sessions at SGU, the group journeyed to Gouyave for practical application of their training.

Although OHS often does not receive sufficient emphasis in Grenada, Dr. Elci foresees this changing. “It is going to get better. Once this starts, it is going to spread to other industries,” he said. Dr. Elci has 26 years of experience in the field of OHS and has worked in several industries including the highway construction, tea plantation and processing, garment, shoemaking and microwave popcorn industries.

Dr. Omur Cinar Elci says that the university and his department are happy to be assisting the nutmeg industry. “It is impossible to claim the name of public health or be a centre of excellence in education without seeking to give something measureable and sustainable back to the community. Especially in developing nations, we have a responsibility to pursue more than academic curiosity.”

St. George’s University Hosts First Caribbean Bee College

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This January, Grenada was abuzz with beekeepers from around the region who attended the first Caribbean Bee College (CBC). Seasoned apiculturists as well as amateurs and hobbyists enjoyed a stimulating three-day program that included lectures, hands-on sessions, and tours of local apiaries.

The event was held at St. George’s University, home of the East Caribbean Bee Research and Extension Center (ECBREC). Patterned after the bee college at University of Florida, the CBC’s aim was sharing research, information, and tools to improve the sustainability of beekeeping in the region.

“This exercise is very important for raising the profile of our beekeepers,” said Dr. Valma Jessamy, president of the Grenada Association of Beekeepers. “Most of them are not big university grads with high-level training. They are artists and they know the skill of beekeeping by instinct. The CBC will help to bring some of the science to their art.”

Dr. Jessamy was pleased with the first CBC and sees many ways in which it can benefit beekeeping in Grenada, which has about 50 beekeepers who produce around 3,000 gallons of honey per year. Honeybees account for one-third of the world’s food, and their products serve many purposes, including healing wounds.

“Beekeeping and its products have so many varied applications that our medical, our veterinary, and our public health departments will all like to play a role in this bee college,” said Dr. Calum MacPherson, director of research at St. George’s University.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the CBC, Aaron Francois, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, expressed his vision of seeing the CBC expand, diversify, and globalize the beekeeping industry in Grenada, stating that “The Ministry of Agriculture regards the apiculture industry as one of the subsectors holding the greatest potential for transforming the agro-business sector.”

The CBC was a collaborative effort by ECBREC, the Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab (HBREL) at University of Florida (UF), the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers’ Organizations (ACBO) and the Grenada Association of Beekeepers (GAB).

SGU Joins in the Worldwide Attack on Diabetes: Love the Feet You Walk On

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Grenada’s neighborhoods this Wednesday were filled with the odd sight of reclining people, eyes closed, being poked in the feet by friends and family.  It may have seemed that Grenada was suffering from a mass hysteria, but in fact, Grenada was joining the world’s countries in observing World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2012.

St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), the Public Health Students Association (PHSA) and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) came together with Grenada’s Ministry of Health to promote a program to raise awareness of diabetes and its effects, and to help diabetes sufferers avoid serious complications of the disease.

The public health students, through, PHSA, were dedicated to the success of this effort.   Branding this effort, Touch Toe Test: Love the Feet you Walk On,  they  created a three-minute public service announcement describing and demonstrating the Touch Toe Test  – a simple examination that can be performed by just about anyone to help diabetes sufferers detect loss of sensitivity in their feet.   The outreach initiative centered on promoting the Touch Toe Test via television and radio as well as an online video, potentially reaching thousands of Grenadians, among whom diabetes continues to be a serious problem as it is the world over.

Jenna Nakagawa, a member of PHSA, explained that with loss of sensitivity in the feet, cuts or abrasions may go undetected and become infected, leading to further complications including amputations in serious cases.

To conduct the test, the patient must sit with feet elevated and eyes closed while someone lightly and randomly touches each toe; the patient then indicates whether he/she has felt each touch. If loss of sensitivity is detected, the patient is advised to see a health care provider.

This amazingly simple – and absolutely free – medical test has been shown in a UK study to reduce the instance of reulceration by 60% and the instance of amputation by 85%. Love the Feet You Walk On. Tickle those toes.

Leonardo Da Vinci –How a 15th Century Artist predicted 21st Century Radiology

Linking the disciplines of art and anatomy at an intriguing lecture on October 18th, Dr. Abrahams – part time anatomy faculty at St. George’s University – described the ingenious of Italian artist, Leonardo Da Vinci who accurately depicted human anatomy through his drawings.  “These pictures are not just extremely amazing art and artistically beautiful, but they are an amazing record of an anatomy text book of the human body, produced approximately forty years before the first anatomy text book of the renaissance. So he predated even the first people that ever produced a decent anatomy book, and yet they were never published and remained in hiding for nearly 300 years, until the 1700’s.”

According to Dr. Abrahams, the concept of Magnetic Resonance (MR) and Computerized Tomography (CT) scans in the 21st century is not a new phenomenon, but was illustrated in the drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci. “Amazingly in his anatomical descriptions of the body, he foresaw the idea of slicing through the body and actually looking at it from all directions and angles.” This was graphically illustrated during the lecture via a video presentation of Leonardo’s pictures, and what modern medicine can now do, five hundred years later.

Dr. Abrahams attributed Leonardo’s ability to derive such an accurate replica of the human body due to a combination of unique skill sets. He stated, “Leonardo dissected between twenty and thirty bodies himself, like any professor of anatomy would in the modern era. But he then had the ability to draw what he saw very accurately and more excitingly than that, he was able to use his knowledge of mechanics and other aspects of engineering to determine how the body worked. So he had the combination of artistic, scientific and engineering knowledge which enabled him to put it all together and understand it.” Dr. Abrahams attests that it is the homogeneous combination of both the artist and the scientist that makes his approach so unique.

Earlier this year, a similar lecture was given by Dr. Abrahams at the Queens Gallery in Buckingham Palace England, to a number of scientists, artists, medical practitioners and students in attendance. An upcoming lecture will also be given at Northumbria University and another is being planned in Grenada in 2013.

Dr. Abrahams  a practitioner is also currently a Professor of Clinical Anatomy at Warwick Medical School, England. He has been a visiting professor and part-time faculty with St. George’s University since 1993.  For more on Leonardo Da Vinci and his exceptional work ‘brought to life’, persons can visit the App Store.

Brittany King, DVM ’10, St. George’s University, Raises Money Swimming the 21-Mile English Channel

news brittany kingBrittany King, SGUSVM ’10, is no stranger to pushing herself to the limit. She’s run five marathons, completed an Ironman triathlon, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, all before, during, or after successfully navigating her way through veterinary school. However, this veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Cypress, TX, is taking on the stiffest athletic challenge of her life to date – swimming the English Channel.

It’s a 21-mile stretch that approximately 1,400 individuals have conquered since Matthew Webb first accomplished the feat in 1875. More than twice as many people have climbed Mount Everest. Dr. King’s turn comes this month; if not Friday, she’ll set off from Dover Harbor in England next week. Destination: Cape Nes Griz, France.

“It’s just you and your body,” Dr. King said. “I have never done one single activity for that amount of time. If the tide’s wrong, you can be washed six miles south and swim much more than 22 miles. There are so many variable factors. I’m praying for the best. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve put in the effort and the training.”

King is raising money for two Banfield Charitable Trust organizations – Pet Peace of Mind and HOPE Funds – which allow for the treatment of patients whose owners are unable to finance their care. It has already been put to good use. In the spring, a dog broke both his femurs after being hit by a car, and Dr. King was able to perform two surgeries, estimated to cost $1,600, for free. According to Dr. King, the canine would have been euthanized otherwise.

“She came in three weeks ago and came running to the back,” Dr. King said. “It was pretty satisfying.”

Dr. King has practiced with Banfield Pet Hospital since graduating from SGU in 2010, performing everything from spays and neuters to orthopedic surgeries. She speaks glowingly about her stint in Grenada, from the University’s caliber of education, its faculty, the off-campus experience, and everything in between.

“SGU is the best thing that ever happened to me,” Dr. King said. “The professors are incredible and so supportive, and it doesn’t matter what your dreams are – SGU supports them. SGU set me up for life. I went to Grenada and learned what’s important in life – what to value and what not to value. It’s a magical place. It changes your soul. SGU changed my soul and I’m more motivated with everything in life.”

With a busy schedule, finding time to train for the Channel has been a challenge in itself. Between early-morning and evening sessions, she estimates that she swims 25,000-30,000 meters and runs 30-40 miles per week. The temperature of the Channel expects to be around 55 degrees, conditions difficult to replicate in the Lone Star State.

Adele Duckworth (right), a registered nurse from Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital in the UK, visited Osseo Animal Hospital in Osseo, MN, operated by Dr. Heather Douglas, SGUSOM '06, SGUMBA '11, as part of a unique exchange program.
Brittany King, SGUSVM ’10, and her Channel Swimming Association boat captain, Paul, are all smiles before the big swim.

Swimming the Channel is a daunting task, but King has a proven track record of setting the bar high and completing her mission. She was a member of the 2002 national championship swimming and diving team at Auburn University and also swam at Texas A&M University – her forte, however, was the 50-meter freestyle sprint. Out of the water, she has completed an Ironman triathlon in Idaho (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) in 2007, and while doing a Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) research project in Tanzania in 2008, she scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa (elevation: 19,341 feet).

In addition to the Channel swim, Dr. King is halfway to her pilot’s license, and she has designs on running two marathons in a 48-hour span in February – first in Peru, then in Antarctica. If successful, it would leave only Africa and Australia on her checklist of continents on which to run a marathon.

Donations to Laps of Love are being accepted on the Banfield Charitable Trust website. Dr. King’s pilot boat, on which her boyfriend will provide support, will update on her progress on her Twitter account.

Being able to provide for the animals for which she cares is all the motivation she needs to complete the journey across the Channel and join an exclusive group of swimmers.

“I’ve loved the career path I’ve been on from the moment I started at St. George’s,” Dr. King said. “I love veterinary medicine and I love that the animals we treat give so much love to their owners on a daily basis. I love being able to give back to them.”

SGU Sport for Health Ambassador Soars to Olympic Gold in 400 Metre

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Kirani James, a 19-year old Grenadian, won the country of Grenada’s first Olympic medal this week in London as the country cheered itself hoarse.  When Kirani soared across the finish line at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, securing Olympic gold in the 400-meter dash, it was the culmination of a long journey for the track and field star. Of all people, James, the first sporting ambassador for St. George’s University’s affiliate, the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation’s (WINDREF) Sport for Health program, recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating well.

On Monday, he set off an island-wide celebration by becoming the first Grenadian in history to capture an Olympic medal, doing so in grand fashion. The 19-year-old breezed to victory in the 400-meter final in a time of 43.94 seconds. It wasn’t just his personal best but also the ninth-fastest time ever recorded in the event. James became the first non-US athlete in history to break the 44-second barrier in the 400. In addition, Grenada became the smallest country, by population, to ever have an athlete win gold.

After his win, James immediately disappeared into the arms of dozens of Grenadian fans and proudly waved the Grenadian flag throughout his victory lap in Olympic Stadium. Perhaps no one rejoiced more than his mother, Pamela James, and his father, Dorani Marshall, who is a longtime employee at St. George’s University and a Sport for Health committee member. On Tuesday, James ascended the podium and was officially awarded his gold medal as the National Anthem of Grenada was played for the first time ever at the Olympic Games.

Thousands of residents gathered, including at Cuthbert Peters Park in his hometown of Gouyave, to watch and then celebrate his victory, which highlighted a banner week in Grenada’s athletic history. Ten Grenadians made the trip to the 2012 Games, including James, Rondell Bartholemew, Joel Redhead, Paul Williams, and Kurt Felix in men’s track and field, swimmer Esau Simpson,  Andrea St. Bernard in taekwondo, and Neisha Bernard-Thomas and Janelle Redhead in women’s track and field.

WINDREF launched its Sport for Health campaign in April 2011, collaborating with Grenada’s 22 secondary schools, the Ministries of Sport and Health, and the Grenada National Olympic Committee to guard against chronic disease by leading a healthier lifestyle. Former Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe, who chairs the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, pledged his support of the program which seeks to reduce obesity and promote healthy lifestyles through sport while attending the WINDREF House of Lords function in 2011.