Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Troubled youth mentored by RU Psychology students

Inspiration, hope for the future, and much-needed interactions were provided for boys and girls on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network in Chicago.

Located at 3730 North California Ave., UCAN provides residential housing for troubled youths who have faced physical or sexual abuse, have been neglected by parents or face mental illness. Youth can reside at the facility up until age 19 and in some cases until they’re 21 years old, according to UCAN officials.

“UCAN strives to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education and empowerment,” according to its website.

An Affirmative statement is given for each week’s mentoring session. This week’s statement was:
“I truly believe that my haters are my motivators because they wish they were me but can’t be” - Nicki Minaj

The program, BoutIt, stands for Bringing Out Unity  Through Interactive Transition. The course, ACP 250, is cross-listed with a psychology course titled “Youth Violence Intervention and Theory.”
Approximately 35 mentors and their mentees sat down together on Wednesday to discuss how the day went and if any issues came up before starting the session’s activities.

Dr. Melissa Sisco, the Roosevelt professor who teaches the course, has 15 years of experience in dealing with at-risk youth and has mentored imprisoned youth for four years. Sisco provided the student mentors with a rundown of what the activities would be for the day.

Sisco said that it took students from business and psychology majors to put this program together and she is thankful for the transformations she has witnessed in the past six weeks. Spencer Scott and Carlo Villarosa are students who led the boys’ and girls’ sides of the room, respectively.

Sisco said young people like Darnell Owens, Spencer Scott, Chase Zvonek and Carlo Villarosa helped to create the foundation for the BoutIt mentorship program and truly bring it to life.  And they all bring different types of expertise with undergraduate backgrounds in  business, education, accounting, and psychology.

”We found a way to allow RU students to learn about violence through critical thinking and comparisons of research and real world topics,” Sisco said, “and to learn problem solving, making goals, and creating change through practicing it.”

Pamela Wilson, UCAN’s residential therapeutic recreation coordinator, said the most common issue with these kids is having trouble in school and not following the program in terms of treatment plans. Treatment plans refer to taking medication and participating in therapy sessions. There are 62 boys and girls aged 12 to 17 who are currently housed at UCAN.

“We’ll take a kid who has poor social skills, struggling psychologically, struggling educationally, and struggling behavior wise, and we design a treatment plan for them,” Wilson said.

“It is hard to chart the progress because we have a wide range of kids with a wide range of issues,” she said.

Spencer Scott and Brenda Lara, who led the girls’ mentoring, agreed that the girls open up more easily and are more laid back than the boys. Even though Scott is the only boy on the girls’ side, he lets Lara do most of the leading.

“I don’t do any of the actual leading because I thought it was important that it’s very female led for the females,” Scott said.

Scott and Lara said that support is provided for the girls during activities every Wednesday and that the girls have opened up to the student mentors.

Leading the boys’ side are Darnell Owens and Carlo Villarosa. They said the boys have a harder time opening up and are separated from the girls  because, often times, they will try to impress members of the opposite gender.

“Boys are rambunctious, and they just like to be actively doing something; and talking isn’t actively doing something,” said Villarosa.

“I wouldn’t say a bad experience, but a little challenging because we have a few children with behavioral problems and special needs,” said Owens, when asked about his experiences in the program thus far.

Some lessons Owens said he would like to pass on to the boys are, “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future,” and we are “empowering our students to be a difference in young people’s lives.”

Villarosa and Owens both said that mentoring these boys has not only changed the youth for the better but also created created a positive change for classmates as well. They both described BoutIt as a “dual-learning experience.”

For more information about this transformational program, please contact Dr. Melissa Sisco at (520) 977-6485 or msisco01@roosevelt.edu.

From the Roosevelt University Torch (10/29/2012)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learning through mentoring, consulting, and current events

This fall Dr. Amy Roberts, an assistant professor of developmental psychology at Roosevelt University, is asking RU graduate students to engage in service-learning by helping Chicago community members answer questions like:

• Are there gender differences in littering behavior?
• How are relationships between employees and their supervisors influenced by a strike?
• How can local manufacturers best attract and retain quality employees?

Dr. Roberts got the idea to offer Advanced Research Methods (PSYC 530) as a service-learning course when she was mentoring an 8th grader with the Spark program (http://www.sparkprogram.org/). Spark is a national program that matches youth with mentors working in the careers of their choice for apprenticeships.  Dr. Roberts realized that she was covering many of the major topics addressed in her research methods courses through this mentorship with an 8th grader interested in psychology research. She thought students could learn about social science research through meaningful service to Chicago communities.  

Learning through mentoring

Graduate students pursuing MAs in clinical psychology are introducing Chicago area students to social science research by guiding them through conducting social science research projects. Twelve RU graduate students visit students once a week to help them articulate questions about human behavior and design methods for answering them. This mentoring has been made possible through partnerships with the Spark program and visionary teachers at Enrico Fermi Elementary, Crete-Monee High and St. Albert schools. These mentorships enable graduate students pursuing a Masters in clinical psychology to apply the research methods concepts discussed in class while gaining experience guiding children in working through challenging questions.  

Learning through researching current events

The recent teacher strike interrupted students’ mentorship projects, but also provided opportunities to ask new research questions. A small group of psychology graduate students who had not yet started projects with youth at local schools decided instead to study issues related to the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike. Students will be exploring teacher’s feelings about the strike, how relationships between teachers and administrators have been impacted by the strike, and how the experience of this particular labor strike compares to that of workers involved in other recent Chicago area strikes. These graduate students are applying research methods to answering pertinent questions while gaining experience working with labor communities following difficult changes in relationships relate to the strike.  

Learning through consulting

A third group of psychology graduate students pursuing MA in Industrial and Organizational psychology are working with Polyair, a local company who’s human resources manager, Juliana Lopez, is a Roosevelt University I/O Psychology Masters alum. These students will be helping Polyair to improve their procedures for recruitment and retention of high quality employees. This community partnership was supported by the Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Center of the Psychology Department at Roosevelt University. Graduates planning work in industrial and organizational psychology are learning to bridge research and practice while making important connections with local business.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Roosevelt Wins Civic Engagement Award

I am delighted to inform you that Roosevelt University’s commitment to service learning and civic engagement was recognized by the Washington Center which selected the University as a recipient of the 2012 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award. Roosevelt is one of five universities or colleges in the country to receive the award from more than 89 schools which competed for the honor. The other winners are California State University San Bernardino, Columbia College in South Carolina, Tulane University and the University of San Francisco.

Professor Steve Meyers and I will accept the award on behalf of Roosevelt University at a luncheon in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1.

The award provides $20,000 in scholarship funds that will allow Roosevelt students to access the Center’s exceptional internship programs. The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars provides selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington for academic credit. The largest program of its kind, the Washington Center has 70 full-time staff and more than 50,000 alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The selection committee was impressed with Roosevelt’s dramatic growth in service learning and the community engagement activities spearheaded by the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation. During the past academic year, 1,460 Roosevelt students participated in one of 99 service learning classes. Faculty, students, and community partners have collaborated to address a wide array of social challenges that focus on areas such as urban education, environmental toxins, immigration, homeless youth, literacy and domestic violence.

This award recognizes the importance of service learning at Roosevelt. Congratulations to everyone at the University who has been involved in this great accomplishment.

Chuck Middleton, President

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Change Agents," an article in the latest Roosevelt Review

Click here to download "Change Agents," by Laura Janota in the latest issue of Roosevelt Review.  This article describes how transformational learning is being used in exciting ways throughout the university.  It profiles one innovative partnership we have established with Morrill Elementary School to increase the use of restorative justice instead of punitive discipline measures like suspensions and expulsions.

The download also includes a follow-up article, "Through their Eyes" that describes how Professor Tammy Oberg De La Garza takes a unique approach in her research and service learning outreach about literacy among Latino elementary students.

2012-2013 Grant Recipients Announced

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the Mansfield Institute's grant program for transformational learning, supported by the McCormick Tribune Foundation.  These faculty members will be able to purchase materials and needed equipment, hire an undergraduate or graduate level teaching assistant, or facilitate transportation to help them implement transformational service learning during the upcoming year.

We were able to distribute $28,000 in this cycle to support innovative uses of service learning that will allow students to develop a deeper understanding of class concepts by their outreach in the community.  Roosevelt University students in these classes, for example, will outreach urban youth to provide "street law" presentations, partner with local schools to promote restorative justice practices, collaborate with environmental organizations as part of science classes, and interview and assist immigrants in Chicago.

Congratulations to this year's awardees:

Catherine Campbell (Psychology)
PSYC 520 - Basic Clinical Skills

Tammy Oberg De La Garza (Education)
READ 320 - Teaching Reading in Elementary Schools
READ 323- Teaching Reading through Children's Literature

Melissa Sisco (Psychology)
ACP 250 - Grounds for Change / PSYC 250 - Youth Violence: Interventions and Theory
PSYC 382 - Psychology of Mentorship

W. Aaron Shoults-Wilson (Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences)
PHSC 105 - Introduction to Environmental Science
BIOL 112 - Environmental Biology

Amy Roberts and Kim Dienes (Psychology)
PSYC 254 - Childhood and Adolescence

Sofia Dermisi and Jon DeVries (Finance and Real Estate)
REES 493 - Urban Sustainability

Heather Dalmage and Alfred DeFreece (Sociology)
SOC 327/427 - Race and Ethnic Relations
SOC 381 - Youth, Race, and Culture

Mike Bryson (Sustainability Studies)
SUST 350 - Service and Sustainability

Priscilla Archibald (Literature and Languages)
ACP 250 - Grounds for Change / SPAN 252 - Immigration Today

Steve Balkin (Economics)
ECON 213 - Crime, Economics, and Urban Life

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicago celebration of transformational learning

On April 19th, the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation held a celebration for transformational learning and the scholar activist program at the downtown campus.  The event, coordinated by Nikita Stange, AmeriCorps VISTA, was an opportunity for students and faculty to present the social justice work they have been doing in Chicago and beyond. From business to psychology and education to economics, students presented their research and service learning projects.

Nicole Comer, a teaching assistant for BAMD 398 described creating partnerships for Roosevelt students that will allow students to have social justice oriented internship opportunities in the Heller College of Business. 

Heather Dalmage and two of her students, Amanda Warren and Greg Fuller, described their experiences at Morrill Elementary School.  Their sociology class learned about restorative justice and participated in Peace Circles and student mentoring while fulfilling their transformational learning course requirement. Both Amanda and Greg both continued to volunteer at the school after their class was finished. Amanda said, “There is a huge difference between learning about injustice and actually seeing it.”  Kristina Peterson also had students from her Clinical Mental Health Counseling Course at Morrill in Spring 2012, and Alfred DeFreece will have sociology students there in the Fall 2012.  Leslie Bloom from the College of Education also had her students involved with school disciplinary practices.  Through the scholar activist program, she and her students examined how community organizations implement restorative justice programs in the Chicago Public Schools.  They were able to prepare a report that their community organization partners (COFI) can use in the future to secure funding.

Also in the realm of education, Tammy Oberg De La Garza used transformational learning and partnered with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Her students mentored Latino students and implemented “best practice” instructional methodologies.  Her students created videos that highlighted their experiences working with children.

Peter Lee, Corrie Harris, and Nicole Farr described how they learned about the issues behind the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, from the perspective of business and stock traders to individuals working with the Occupy group.  They expressed enthusiasm at having had a chance to better understand an issue they knew little about and found the experience rewarding. 

Joseph Bulter and Alex Atkins presented on their work with the Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN) where they assisted boys in North Lawndale.  Through their work, they were able to make connections with the young men with the hopes of preparing them to become leaders. 

Students from Lisa Lu’s PSYC 310 course described their experiences trying to teach neuroscience to middle school students.  They expressed initial nervousness about being the leader in the classroom, but found the experience rewarding, especially since they were able to all work together towards one common goal: to deliver a science lesson.  The students were successful in their presentations as the school remarked that they loved having the Roosevelt students there.

Katie Copenhaver’s LIBS 201 class worked with nonprofits in helping build communication and marketing materials.  They conducted organizational assessments that allowed them to better understand the partner organizations.  One group worked with the Mansfield Institute to help categorize their social justice related materials.  Terry Pernell remarked that the experience taught him that at RU “we actually practice social justice not just preach it.”  Through their research and subsequent reports, students not only provided valuable help to the organizations but also strengthened their writing and research skills.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Transformational learning in Spring 2012

As the Spring 2012 semester comes to a close, we are happy to a few of the innovative ways in which Roosevelt University faculty members used transformational learning in their classes.

See photos from Mike Bryson's course in Sustainability Studies in which his students partnered with Growing Power Youth Corps to work together at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm.  

You can also learn how students in Lisa Lu's course ("Fundamentals of Behavioral Neuroscience" taught lessons about the brain to 7th and 8th graders at the Young Women's Leadership Charter School as part of Brain Awareness Week 2012.

These are wonderful testimonials to how transformational learning can make a difference in the lives of Roosevelt University students as well as the youth involved in these outreach efforts.

As a whole, transformational learning continues to grow at the university.  In total, we offered 99 transformational learning courses in 2011-2012 with an enrollment of 1,460 students.  This is a three-fold increase compared to just two years ago.  If you're interested in learning how to use transformational learning in your own classes, please feel free to contact the Mansfield Institute staff -- we'd be happy to help.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Schaumburg celebration of transformational learning

The Mansfield Institute was proud to sponsor a celebration of transformational learning at the Schaumburg Campus on April 13.  Organized by Jennifer Tani (Director of Community Engagement) and Jill Coleman (Assistant Professor of Psychology), the event showcased how Roosevelt University students and faculty have used this teaching strategy to address challenges and needs present in the northwest suburbs.

Jill Coleman and her teaching assistant, Aliya Ghouse, described how transformational learning enriched her Psychology of Women class during the past semester.  Flanked by display boards showcasing community partners for the class, participants learned how students benefited from the first-hand experiences of working with agencies that assist women and how to overcome challenges involved in community placements.  She shared a poignant quote from Lisa Musialowicz, one of her students, about the placement:

“While I was working at the volunteer fair with Deena, she mentioned that the women and children at the crisis center are in charge of their own breakfast and lunch, but each night a few people are assigned to the chore of making dinner for all of the residents.  With the food pantry getting so low this is becoming an even harder task…I decided that since Monday night was my night off, I would make dinner.  I decided on cheese tortellini and sauce with salad and garlic bread.  I don’t have a huge kitchen at my apartment so this was not exactly easy, but I managed.  When everyone saw what I brought, their mouths about dropped to the floor.  They kept saying how nice and generous it was.  To me, pasta, salad, and garlic bread is not a gourmet meal but, when you have nothing, everything is a big deal.

I left the center after dinner feeling better than I could have imagined.  I cook dinner for family and friends all the time and have never felt the way I did that night.  It was more than volunteering for a class that night.  It was doing something kind for women and children that maybe haven’t had a lot of kindness recently except for at ECC.”

Other presenters focused on how to facilitate outreach opportunities more broadly at the Schaumburg Campus.  A panel of students from Melissa Sisco's course in Child Abuse and Family Violence not only performed the service learning hours as part of this class, they shared results from a survey of 79 Roosevelt students about their needs and preferences for becoming more engaged in the community.  Melissa Palmer, Gina Stawinoga, Alexandra Corbin, Christina Luburich, Tiana Sapienza, Christine Westercamp, and Amanda Brullo reported that Roosevelt University students often wish for more opportunities for service learning as well as weekly volunteering, particularly in the areas of at-risk youth and intimate partner violence.  This data will inform the creation of the Campus to Community Outreach Initiative (CCO) at Schaumburg to establish additional community partnerships and to facilitate the placement process.

Jan Bone elaborated on the innovative partnership that she formed with CEDA Northwest when teaching Writing Social Justice during the Spring semester.  This community agency focuses on the impact of economic inequality in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Students in Jan's class developed their writing as they learned about issues of affordable housing and the lived experiences of poor people in the suburbs.  Applying their skills, students provided assistance for the redevelopment of CEDA's website, Facebook page, and compiled a 94-page document to help the agency find options to sustain their funding needed for operation.

Sonia Ivanov and Jessica Elbe from CEDA attended the celebration and received these materials at the reception.  Expressing gratitude and excitement around this collaboration, they shared how challenging it can be for not-for-profit agencies to sustain their work as funding becomes more scarce throughout Illinois and how vital the students' assistance has been for their organization.  Several undergraduates in the class will continue to serve at CEDA even after the course ends.

Monday, April 9, 2012

SUST 350′s Workday at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm

This past Wednesday was the third week for my SUST 350 Service & Sustainability class doing work at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm in Cabrini-Green. We help out on a variety of chores and projects at the farm on our Wed afternoon work sessions. Last week we pulled weeds, sifted compost, and harvested thousands of pumpkin seeds from some of last year’s leftover pumpkins. This week we sifted more compost, pulled weeds, and began work on constructing the 2nd hoop house for the farm.

Click to

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Students spend their spring break fixing homes in Indiana community hit hard by recession

Instead of driving to Florida or jetting to Mexico, a group of Roosevelt University students spent spring break helping others in an unusual destination – Goshen, Ind. Dedicated to the University’s social justice mission, 10 students traveled to Goshen March 11-17 to fix up vacant homes with the not-for-profit group, La Casa, Inc. 

Undergraduates Mooni Abdus-Salam, Samantha Benduha, Molly Connor, Marius Cuciulan, Traci Gilbert, Chelsea Morrison, Hannah Pilla, Kevin Stefanowski, Bailey Swinney and Emilie Wilkie were busy every day of their break making repairs, including indoor remodeling, roofing and landscaping, on homes that La Casa makes available to low and moderate-income residents.
”Community service has always been important to me,” said Morrison, an undergraduate political science major who was part of the Center for Student Involvement ‘s third annual Alternative Break Immersion trip. “It’s particularly important when you help people who can’t make do for themselves,” she said.

In 2010, a group of Roosevelt students spent their spring break helping at a community center in a small West Virginia town.  In 2011, Roosevelt students went to work at Benton House, a community center in in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.  This year, volunteers chose to help in Elkhart County’s Goshen, Ind., which has been hard hit by the recession, including foreclosures and unemployment, due in large part to the collapse of its RV manufacturing industry.

“We took the trip to help out people who have fallen on hard times,” said Katherine Mason, the Roosevelt career counselor who led student volunteers in fixing three La Casa properties.  “It was an eye-opening experience to see how badly a small town like Goshen has suffered,” she said.

Hannah Pilla, an undergraduate English major who has participated in all three Alternative Break Immersion excursions and who helped organize the trip to Goshen, said the experience was labor intensive but very humbling.

“Every time I go on these trips, I realize I’m a lot more fortunate than many people,” said Pilla. “When you see someone who doesn’t have a place to live, it makes you feel lucky and good about yourself that you can do something to help,” she said.

Abdas-Salam, a Chicago resident who also was part of the Alternative Break Immersion trip last year, said the Indiana excursion was rewarding in part because it opened her eyes to problems that families face in semi-rural areas.

“I learned to get along with different types of people and it was great to help these families with painting, roofing, gardening and a lot of other things that needed to be done,” said Abdas-Salam, who wants to enter the not-for-profit field after graduating in 2013.

During the trip, students also spent time working at a home for recovering drug addicts and individuals with disabilities. They were assisted in their volunteer work by student volunteers from Boston University and by prison inmates doing community service. The group also had the opportunity to have dinner with members of the area’s Amish community.

Bailey Swinney, an undergraduate sociology major who went on the trip, said one of the best experiences was taking a tour after working hours in downtown Goshen where a guide from La Casa showed the group how volunteer efforts over time have helped Goshen regain its economic footing. “I loved having the opportunity to put social justice theories discussed in Roosevelt’s different classes into action,” said Swinney.

The trip gave Emily Wilkie, an undergraduate majoring in sociology and women’s and gender studies, a fresh, hands-on perspective on what it means to be homeless, addicted and/or disabled.

“I learned a lot from the open and honest discussion members of our group had.  It was truly an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about attending the Alternative Spring Break Immersion trip next year,” she said.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Grants to Support Transformational Service-Learning

The Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation (MISJT) is pleased to announce its annual grant program to support the development, teaching, and administration of transformational service-learning courses at the university.  Grants for faculty members have a $3,000 maximum amount, and will support transformational learning classes to be offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, and Summer 2013.

The brief application, along with an explanation of transformational service-learning and the grant program, can be downloaded as an MS Word document at http://tinyurl.com/misjt-2012rfp

We at the Mansfield Institute are ready and able to help faculty as they prepare their grant proposals and use transformational learning. The MISJT has two web pages with related information: http://misjt.blogspot.com/ and http://roosevelt.edu/MISJT/TransformationalLearning.aspx.

Your application should be submitted as an attachment to Steven Meyers at smeyers@roosevelt.edu by Monday, April 16, 2012.  Applicants will be notified about decisions within two to three weeks of the deadline. This grant program is supported by funding from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What is all the buzz about transformational learning (TL), and what is TL anyway?

Students and faculty will be presenting the innovative work that connects teaching with outreach in the community.  Stop by our celebrations at both campuses in April.  Learn how social justice teaching and scholarship is leading to real change and how you can get involved next year.

Chicago Campus:

Thursday, April 18
5:00 p.m. Presentations about transformational service learning and the Scholar Activist Fellowship program in the Congress Lounge.
6:00 p.m. Reception and celebration in the Fainman Lounge.

RSVP: nstange@roosevelt.edu

Schaumburg Campus:

Friday, April 13
10:00 a.m. Presentations and discussion in Alumni Hall
11:00 a.m. Reception and celebration in Alumni Hall

RSVP: jtani@roosevelt.edu

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roosevelt University researcher and her students worked behind scenes for passage of new state law

Kathleen Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University, predicted that deaths from drug overdoses in Illinois will decline thanks to a new state law, the Emergency Medical Services Access Act, which was recently signed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

“The number one reason why folks don’t call 911 is the fear of police and prosecution,” said Kane-Willis, who has been advocating with grassroots organizers since 2010 for bi-partisan passage of the new law, which gives limited immunity from prosecution to those who call 911 or who seek medical treatment in a drug overdose situation.

With its passage, Illinois becomes the fifth state in the nation (New Mexico, Washington, Connecticut and New York have approved similar legislation) to grant limited immunity to drug users who are overdosing and to those who reach out on behalf of a drug user in an overdose situation. The law protects individuals from prosecution when small amounts of most illegal substances are involved. It does not protect drug sellers or traffickers.

In Illinois, the grassroots coalition that worked for passage of the new law in 2010 and 2011 included parents who lost children to overdose, researchers, Roosevelt University students in Kane-Willis’ Drugs, Alcohol and Society class, Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Illinois and drug-treatment providers.

“We did background research and went down to Springfield to advocate for the new law,” said Clay Wallace, a Roosevelt graduate sociology major (also pictured) who was the teaching assistant for Drugs and Society, a transformational learning class. Wallace, a resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, enlisted the support of his state representative, Democrat Barbara Flynn Currie, who co-sponsored the Emergency Medical Services Access Act.

“This was democracy in the making, and it showed me that lawmakers are willing to look at things on a practical level.  The bottom line is no one wants people to die from a drug overdose and our lawmakers understood that,” he said.

“I hope this new law will someday be remembered as the first in a series of policy reforms that helped lead to a substantial reduction in the lives lost due to substance abuse,” said retired Chicago Police Captain John Roberts, a resident of Homer Glen in Will County, whose 19-year-old son died of a heroin overdose. Roberts is the founder of the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO) and a member of the broad-based coalition that worked behind the scenes for passage of the new law.

The bill’s sponsor in the Illinois House, Representative Kelly Cassidy said “Simply put, this bill will save lives.  I am thankful to the advocates who worked so hard for so many years to pass this bill.  I am particularly grateful to the parents who shared the stories of their tragic losses to raise awareness and hopefully prevent others from enduring what they have."