Florida Focus Health Brief Sep. 30, 2016

In this episode: Florida earned an “F” in medical transparency, making it difficult for patients to compare prices and services among heath care providers; University of South Florida Professor Juan Sanchez-Ramos is using a nasal spray to treat Huntington’s Disease; the demand for home caregivers is increasing in Florida as the baby boomer population continues to age; Florida schools would need to triple the number of registered nurses to meet the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics; hospitals in the Bay Area are now available for virtual care through websites and mobile apps.

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Florida Focus Sept. 29th, 2016

In this episode: Uber will pay $250,000 for a temporary license as part of their new agreement with Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission; Gabrielle Giffords led an anti-gun violence rally in St. Pete today; HRI Properties won a bidding war for an empty lot in downtown Tampa and plans on starting construction next year; Pinellas County Department of Health celebrates World Heart Day; Pinellas County firefighters exercise a way to rescue people from collapsed buildings.

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USF study works to prevent firefighter injuries

The University of South Florida is showing progress in a firefighter based exercise study they funded this May. The study spans four departments, including St. Pete, Temple Terrace, Tampa and Hillsborough County.

This study utilizes five exercises to strengthen firefighter’s lower backs and core in hopes of reducing the risk of injury.

Firefighters carry approximately 75 pounds in gear alone, though this number can rise to over 100 pounds when additional gear is needed for a call. This weight in addition to the need to respond quickly puts firefighters at a higher risk for back injuries and chronic back pain.

St. Petersburg Division Chief of Safety and Training, Joseph Bruni has seen his fair share of these injuries throughout his work in the department.

“We have about 50 to 55 injuries a year in a department of this size of 350 personnel,” Bruni said, “and the leading injuries that we see are back and knee injuries”

Bruni who completes the exercises himself speaks highly of the study and what it has accomplished for him.

“It’s helped a great deal as far as my back feels and at the age that I’m at now and the years that I have on the job,” Bruni said. “The exercises that I’ve been doing here in the study has helped substantially.”

While the potential for the final Fall 2017 results are too soon to tell Principal Investigator, John Mayer can attest that what they have accomplished so far is working.

“Anecdotally we have some evidence to support that the exercises are indeed helping the firefighters with their job and to prevent back injuries,” Mayer said.

The next installment of this study can be seen later in this year as the research team pushes towards the potential for national implementation.

USF holds vibrant rally in preparation for FSU showdown

The University of South Florida hosts a festive and optimistic pep rally to prepare for the game against Florida State University. Students gathered around cheering on the USF football players as they enjoyed the energetic vibes.

This game is expected to be a sold out event USF student Lera Koch said, “It’s the first game since I have been at USF that is going to be a 300 level for students section and actually for all fans in general; so I think its going to be super awesome I think the energy is going to be crazy.”

For a university that lacks school pride, the pep rally was full of pride and hope for a victory against FSU.

“FSU is going to get demolished by the bulls they have no chance against us,” said Juan Garcia a fan who chanted green and gold throughout the pep rally.

There is no doubt that the fans will cheer on the green and gold after the USF football team defeated Syracuse giving the bulls hope for a win considering FSU loss against Louisville.

The USF football team has evolved and is ready to take on FSU, with a body of students who chant loud and proud “Go Bulls.”

 

Florida Focus News Brief Sep. 26, 2016

In this episode: an elderly woman is injured when a car crashes into her home; Governor Rick Scott issued a new emergency rule; care for transgender patients is being offered in southwest and central Florida; a pilot program is expanding streetcar services in Ybor and downtown Tampa; and red tide has been detected in bay area beaches.re

 

USF Soccer: Bulls Battle Tigers

The USF Men’s Soccer team faces their toughest challenge of the year on Tuesday against last year’s College Cup runners-up, Clemson.

USF (4-3-2) started the season slowly after a string of injuries and other issues forced key players to miss time. For many teams, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but Coach George Kiefer loaded the schedule with big names like Maryland and Virginia Tech early in the season.

However, a long stand at home gave USF time to get sorted out and start a winning streak. The Bulls won three games straight at home before defeating UCF on the road Saturday.

“It’s a great boost for us,” said senior Nazeem Bartman. “As you know we started off the season a little bit slow, but we’ve won the last four games now, it’s a great confidence boost for myself and the rest of the team too.”

Players wouldn’t emphasize the game too much, but Coach Kiefer had a bit more to say about the visiting Clemson Tigers.

“I’d hate to emphasize one game more than the next, but I would take my hat off to Mike Noonan,” Kiefer said. “He used to be a Brown [University] so he’s used to teams not wanting to travel to him. So the fact he’s at Clemson, willing to come back to us, I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re very excited to have him here.”

The Bulls and the Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Tuesday.

Florida Focus Education Brief Sep. 23, 2016

In this episode: Hillsborough County Deputies designed a campaign to educate drivers about bus safety; a study says that the learning gap between higher and lower income students is closing; the University of South Florida ranks 9th nationwide for universities granted patents; the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) now has more autism-accessible experiences.

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Florida Focus News Brief Sep. 22, 2016

In this episode: immigration suspects fleeing from a minivan close down Interstate 75; a man is wanted for violating his parole and faces charges of assault of a law enforcement officer; and ATM skimming device was discovered inside a Bradenton 7-Eleven; twenty museums are participating in Free Museum Day; Lakeland now has a pizza vending machine.

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Florida Focus News Brief September 21, 2016

In this episode: Sewage problems spread across the Bay area following Hurricane Hermine; Clearwater Police participated in opioid overdose training; City officials released new details about a High-Speed Ferry service; The church of Scientology hosted a prayer party for International Day of Peace.

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Affordability of education abroad

 

Once the haze of being accepted into the USF in Florence summer abroad program wore off, reality kicked in and showed up asking for payments.

Louise Cardenas, 19, didn’t expect to be in such a financial bind. Finances had never been an issue since she had been receiving aid since her first semester at USF. With no coverage being offered for her trip over the summer months, Cardenas was at a crossroads.

“I don’t think that abroad programs are affordable for the average student  trying to minimize unnecessary spending,” Cardenas said. “The only way to realistically study abroad is by paying out of pocket because you can’t count on scholarships or financial aid.”

The USF Education Abroad office has well-established programs in over 25 countries giving students a variety of choices, but many shy away from the thought of even applying because studying abroad is associated with being unaffordable.

Students are encouraged to seize the opportunity to take anywhere from a semester to a year abroad. While the motivation for studying abroad for each student is different, the most common reason is for the experience and introduction of a new culture.

Students already hold the financial responsibilities of paying up to $6,410 for tuition alone not including housing, books or miscellaneous expenses. Any additional financial expenses could be difficult to fund.

Each program cost varies on the location and the amount of time spent on the program. Most semester programs are estimated on the higher end of about $5,000 for tuition and housing. When adding on airfare, passport fees, books and travel money, the price dramatically increases. Students must consider whether the experience is worth the stress it could bring financially.

Jim Pulos, the associate director of Education Abroad, has encountered many students who believe that abroad programs are cost prohibitive.

“It’s a common misconception,” said Pulos. “We have designed our programs to be within the range of  most students’ finances.”

In some cases the costs of a program can result in being around the same price or cheaper than a normal semester. Pulos recommended that all students seek financial assistance.

The office holds regular funding sessions inviting presenters from other on-campus scholarship offices. Students are also eligible for grants, loans and scholarships open exclusively to students studying internationally. In the past, as much as $34,550 have been given away in scholarships.

Programs like USF in Florence are prime examples of the scholarship exclusivity offered. The Florence School of Record scholarship is a $1,000 award available to 35 of the programs committed students.

USF abroad offices are dedicated to making the programs affordable, but each student’s eligibility varies. Many students don’t qualify for grants or miss scholarships due to limited awards. One students experience could be entirely out of pocket while another may never know the stress of the financial side of spectrum.

Irene John, 20, was one of the fortunate students who had her expenses covered by the George W. Jenkins Scholarship. John traveled to Costa Rica last spring and has made plans to apply for another program.

“If I didn’t have my scholarship, I would still choose to study abroad,” John said. “The money is nothing in comparison to the experience you get to have.”

The response from students who have participated in abroad programs is conclusive in the money being worth the experience.

Cardenas happens to be one of the 35 students in her program who have received the scholarship award. Although it doesn’t calm her worries about the financial expenses she’s still dealing with, she is at ease knowing that the abroad offices do indeed offer assistance as advertised.

“Money plays a huge part, but it isn’t everything,” Cardenas said . “I would encourage everyone to apply regardless of their funds because like they say this is once in a lifetime.”

Singing for Shriners Reaches New Heights, Hospital Shows Appreciation

In 2012, the University of South Florida chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity had a wonderful idea for a philanthropy event that would provide fundraising for a worthwhile cause. The event would also intend to provide incredible entertainment for all involved. Theta Chi focused on the local community and realized that they could help bring funding and awareness to the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa located on USF’s campus.

Groups, primarily from the Greek community, collaborate in order to select two songs to be performed on the day of the event. This year, the concert had the most registered groups ever, with 10 female performances and 5 male performances competing for the title of champions.

So where does the fundraising come in? That process begins months before the actual day of the event. Each group contributes a registration fee and is expected to make an effort to raise funds from the USF community by encouraging t-shirt and ticket sales. The higher the funds raised, more points are added to the overall performance scores at Singing for Shriners.

When performance day came along, the Theta Chi brothers experienced an unexpected dilemma, as the audience reached maximum capacity in the theatre. Of all the problems that they could have faced this was a welcome one.

Jessica Hill, the Public Relations Specialist at Shriners-Tampa, was front and center for the show, even speaking on behalf of the hospital to the crowd.

“It means so much to have the support”, she said. “Theta Chi, in doing this, is helping to send love to the rescue for so many kids in our area.”

USF student Ally Lindsay has been attending the event for several years and she said that although it’s always nice to have a night full of entertainment, having representatives from the Hospital in attendance, “It'[s] a very important part of the event because you can see these people and see where all the money that everyone’s raising is going to.”

The performances didn’t disappoint and the crowd was enthralled from beginning to end. Perhaps the best part of the evening was finishing off the event with Theta Chi handing over a check to Shriner’s Hospital for $11,000.

A Place To Play, Learn And Grow

The Glazer Children’s Museum hosts a wide variety of interactive exhibits with topics ranging from the deep ocean to deep space, which kids can play with to understand the world around them. Open year-round, the museum is constantly cycling through new events to make every visit a unique experience.

“As far as the events go, it’s an all staff kind of opinions. All of us continue to feed our opinions as to what will work and what caters to the families in which we serve,” said Alyssa Ortiz, marketing and communications manager at Glazer.

Frequent visitors to the museum have the option to purchase memberships. According to the museum website,  members gain access to special features, including: invitations to member-only events and previews, discounts to partnering organizations, museums, and aquariums, three dollars off general admission for guests and more.

For visitors that frequent the museum less often, there are still many activities that all children can enjoy.

“I love bringing my daughter to the museum because the museum offers so many different activities for her to learn and do,” said Vu Lieu, a visitor at the Glazer Children’s Museum.

Parents can be confident that their children will enjoy learning through interactions with various activities in a safe, controlled environment.

Visit the Glazer Children’s Museum and start the journey to a bright future.

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Photo courtesy of the Glazer Children’s Museum website.

Eckerd Kids’ Friends of the Children program becomes first to only work with foster care kids

For over 20 years, Eckerd Kids has been helping at-risk youth in the Tampa community.

Their Friends of the Children program provides these youths with a professional mentor to work with them through life. The mentors begin their work with the students when they are in kindergarten or first grade, and they remain with the students through to their high school graduation.

“I love the role I’m working in now,”said Justin Goldsmith, one of Eckerd’s professional mentors. “I wake up every morning and I thank God for putting me in this predicament to help the youth.”

Friends of the Children is the first program to work exclusively with kids in the foster care system. Many of the students that are chosen for this program are considered the most vulnerable students in their area.

“When I was 4, I didn’t have any friends. I was all by myself,” said Kaden Figueras, 7, a student in the Eckerd program for two years. “Now I’m being a leader and having fun.”

The program has nine mentors working with over 60 students across Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

“I just want to let the youth know that they can be leaders, or they can be whatever they want to in life,”Goldsmith said.

USF BASEBALL FIGHTS CANCER ON THE FIELD

For the second straight year, the USF Baseball team partnered up with the V.S. Cancer Foundation to shave their heads in order to raise money in support of the fight against childhood cancer.

“It’s such a great thing to do. Hopefully we make a small dent in conquering this disease someday,” said Mark Kingston, head coach of the USF Baseball team. “We’ll always want to do our part.”

It takes a lot of passion and a lot of drive to make it to the division one level, let alone be successful. The Bulls channel that same energy to give back and help others.

“We have it so good,” Kingston said. “To be able to give back to children that are battling terrible diseases like this, it’s important to gain that perspective.”

This event hits especially close to home for pitching coach Billy Mohl, who lost his wife to cancer in 2013.

“I promised my wife when she passed away that I would do something in terms of raising money for cancer research,” Mohl said. “I can think of no better way to do it than on a baseball field with all these guys.”

There were 74 other schools around the country who participated in this year’s V.S. Cancer fundraiser. The Bulls raised more than $11,000, the eighth most out of any school.

The proceeds will be split between the V.S. Cancer Foundation and Tampa General Hospital.

Student Rush brings Lightning tickets to students for a fair price

Over the past few years, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Student Rush ticket program has gained popularity.

The program gives students with a valid high school or college ID the chance to purchase the best available tickets shortly before game time at a fair price.

“We think it’s a great program for both sides,” said Patrick Abts, the Lightning’s Digital Marketing Manager who oversees Student Rush. “It allows us to fill some of the last remaining seats with some of our best fans.”

Students are allowed to line up for Student Rush tickets as early as 7 a.m. on game days, and remain in line until two hours prior to game time to be given a wristband with their number in line.

Thirty minutes before game time, the students are led to the box office where they can purchase the best available tickets at a discounted rate. For the playoffs, any remaining lower level seats will be sold for $50, which normally ranges between $100 and $300. Standing room and upper level tickets will be sold for $25.

“Student Rush is amazing,” said Kristen Thomas, who arrived at 9 a.m. for tickets. “We do this all the time. It gives us a chance to root on the Bolts when we normally wouldn’t be able to afford playoff tickets. “

Organizers believe that if the Lightning continues through the playoffs, the demand will continue to grow and ultimately exceed the supply.

“We’re guaranteeing 100 tickets per game for the playoffs,” Abts said. “We don’t know until game time whether they are lower, upper, or standing room, but we’re guaranteeing 100 per game and may have more depending on the game.”

Abts and his colleagues agree that the best way students can guarantee themselves a Student Rush ticket is to arrive as close to 7 a.m. as possible.

Plant High School’s Mary Radigan wins Teacher of the Year

Students at Henry B. Plant High School are united by special needs instructor, Mary Radigan.

Radigan leads several programs for her students that teach more than academics. They learn work and social skills that are critical for life after graduation.

“The staff and the student body embrace this population and there’s so much acceptance to diversity,” Radigan said. “The whole world is inclusion.”

She was recognized as Hillsborough County’s Teacher of the Year in March for her work. Plant High Principal Robert Nelson is grateful to have her on his staff.

“She takes it to the next level,” Nelson said. “The patience she has for her kids, the kindness, and the way she advocates for them set her apart.”

Students learn basic work skills at a coffee shop on campus. They brew, sell, and deliver coffee right outside of their classroom.

They also built and now maintain an organic garden on campus. Soil and plants grown are studied by AP Environmental Studies students. The fruits and vegetables are used in the school cafeteria.

“I like it because of the exposure,” Radigan said. “They’re out there working and it promotes inclusion with the students walking by.”

Additionally, Radigan is a coach of the Unified Special Olympics teams. Plant High Special Olympics teams for flag football and basketball competed at the state level this year.

“To be a successful school you want to give them those extracurricular activities,” Nelson said. “You want to create that culture where kids are excited to come to school.”