Direct Link – https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cFlnYDrOJ1
FINAL REPORT 12/2/18: The TOPCARE T.E.A.M. Project concluded on 11/26/18. This was an invaluable experience in developing and presenting a project that can have an immediate impact in the lives of student-athletes as they deal with the role strain associated with demands of academics and sports. Overall, participants provided favorable responses to continuing this buddy program and possibly expanding it to the entire team. Development of the final presentation materials took longer than expected, but was a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Below, you will find all of the materials created throughout this project:
TOPCARE eMagazine (Lucidpress) – Summary of project; distributed to participants as debriefing and athletic staff for reproduction of project in other sports teams.
Direct Link – http://pub.lucidpress.com/d764df0e-972a-4c2d-9c59-93e96aff9149/
Twitter Summary (PowerPoint) – Display of social media views / exposure
T.E.A.M. Project – Participant Handout – (Microsoft Word) Informational handout given to potential participants describing the purpose / design of project.
TOPCARE Information Card – Distributed to all WKU Student-Athletes, highlights program resources. Content developed by WKU Athletic Training, Psychology / Counseling & Testing departments. Graphic design by Gerald Printing.
Project Update 11/11/18: The remaining 6 participants in this project report completing regularly scheduled meetings of 30 minutes 1-2 times over the past two weeks, with only one pair posting through social media accounts thus far. Text message reminders to each group are being sent out 3X/week to encourage participation, and the lone pair that has posted through twitter has had 17 likes / retweets of their posts. As one purpose of this project is to raise awareness of the TOPCARE initiative and TOPCARE “buddy program”, we are beginning to see some results. Follow-up interviews with WKU counseling and testing center are tentatively scheduled to be performed on 11/16/18 to effectively confirm baseline test results for the entire team, and we intend to use this opportunity to reemphasize the potential benefits of this buddy program.
Project Update 10/28/18: As expected, participant retention has become a major factor in moving forward with the TOPCARE “T.E.A.M.” initiative. The nature of this pilot project designed as voluntary participation has led to approximately 6 remaining active participants compared to the initial 12 that volunteered. This has also led to a current mismatch in “new” and “returning” athletes, deviating from the initial planned groups. The bulk of participants who have gone inactive have expressed a lack of available time to meet during the suggested 3o minute sessions 2-3 times per week. Operating on minimal funding, I am currently exploring possible incentives to minimize attrition. Of the active participants, all seem enthusiastic about the program. Follow-up interviews from the initial team-wide baseline testing to discuss results will be scheduled this week with a member of the WKU counseling and testing center. During these interviews, I will seek to identify other possible risks for participant attrition and recruit additional participants to gain a better sample for reliable feedback. All participants have been provided an informational handout (TOPCARE TEAM) with project description and guidelines, weekly text messages will be sent out to remind them of posting their meetings on twitter to promote the TOPCARE program as well. Despite these setbacks, I am confident this program will provide valuable support for our athletes. Onward and upward!
Project Update 10/14/18: Baseline test administration has been completed with 100% participation of the entire team, surveys are in the process of being scored. Literature announcing the WKU Athletics TopCare initiative has been proofed and shared through social media. Print copies will be distributed to the entire WKU Student-Athlete body once prints have been received. I currently have a handful of volunteers for my project, and will provide a detailed handout describing the TopCare TEAM program as an addendum to the literature to recruit more volunteers.
Create a peer mentoring / “buddy” program, to be known as TopCare TEAM, within a single intercollegiate athletic team. Student-athletes will be paired with each other based upon academic year status (Seniors paired with Freshman, and Juniors paired with Sophomores). Each pair will be asked to meet with each other two to three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each session for lunch or any other social gathering of their choice, and post a “selfie” on social media with hashtags promoting this buddy program as well as any WKU sponsored event where they chose to socialize with each other.
Student-athletes will socialize with each other outside of their respective team practice settings to discuss various concerns, promoting positive mental health outcomes as they navigate through role strain associated with academic, athletic, and social stressors. At the beginning and conclusion of each academic year, WKU student-athletes are encouraged to complete a questionnaire which provides valuable information regarding their perceived stress levels. Results from this questionnaire can then be used to help identify those individuals that may be at risk for attrition, or most importantly, mental health disorders. Participant results from the initial questionnaire will be used as a baseline measure prior to implementation of TopCare TEAM throughout the semester, with those results obtained at the conclusion of this semester serving as the objective measure for effectiveness. The intention of the TopCare TEAM initiative is to provide a larger support system for our student-athletes, perpetuate awareness of this program through social media, and to help promote WKU sponsored events.
Voluntary participation in TopCare TEAM will be offered to a single intercollegiate athletic program to be utilized as a pilot study in gauging potential effectiveness for broader implementation within the athletic department, or the greater WKU student body. Student-athletes will be recruited form all academic classifications in order to pair upper and lower classmen together. The decision to pair Seniors with Freshmen and Juniors with Sophomores was made as a result of the influence in transfer students typically entering the athletic program with a Junior status. By pairing in this fashion, we attempt to group one student familiar with the culture of their respective team and the greater university organization with another student new to both settings.
Recruitment of participants will begin immediately following instructor approval, with the program concluding on 11/20/18 at which time participants will be asked to complete the TopCare questionnaire again to compare results. The time frame between 11/20 and 11/28 will be utilized to analyze results and prepare a report.
Minimal physical resources are required for this project involving WKU planned/sponsored events and meeting spaces on campus or throughout the Bowling Green community. Social media platforms utilized throughout are free of charge for use, and readily accessible through personal electronic devices already owned by participants. TopCare questionnaires are currently available for deployment through a joint project between WKU Athletics and the Psychology Department / Counseling and Testing Center. The most significant resource required are participants willing to remain compliant throughout the program.