Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Beth Braun

beth-braun2There is a popular saying that goes, “If you meet someone who is able to turn pain into poetry, don’t let them go.”  Beth Braun, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016, has embodied those word by turning personal pain into beautiful performance art and, in the process of doing so, helping others to begin healing their own emotional and psychological wounds.

In 2011, Braun, a professional dancer and high school dance instructor, formed the Esperanza Dance Project in Tucson, Arizona.  Dance has been at the core of Braun’s life since she was a young child, and it was dance that helped her cope with one of the most difficult times in her life, when she learned that her daughter had been sexually abused.  She is now using her talents and experiences to help those who have suffered similar traumas.

The purpose of the Esperanza Dance Project is to succeed in “eradicating stigma, secrecy and shame associated with childhood sexual violence.” (more…)

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Pregnancy, prostates, and football.

Steve Buonaugurio HeadshotLook — men and women are different, and not just the obvious biology lesson. How we tick, how we think, how we feel, and how we interact with the world is all based upon something evolution has been working on since there were human beings. For most of human history men in general, and certainly husbands, had nothing to do with birth. When I was making my documentary Pregnant in America, Dr. Michel Odent, a world-leading expert on the subject, told me, “The men should go outside and chop wood and leave the women alone to give birth.”

While Dr. Odent’s contribution to modern maternity care has been in many ways revolutionary, this particular advice caught me off guard, but it also sparked my curiosity. What was my role in the birth of my child?

Let’s be honest, in today’s society, our gender roles have gotten a bit complicated and confusing. Society is now asking for different things from men. Gone are the days sitting in the waiting room with our cigars, waiting for a hearty pat on the back. (more…)

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Pregnant in Prison: Maternity Care for Incarcerated Women

myheadshotWhen thinking about maternal health access, one group of women are often forgotten, even silenced – incarcerated women.  According to the two part TV series “Babies Behind Bars,” the number of women in US prisons has climbed 400% over the past 30 years. It is estimated that the majority of these women are in jail for non-violent crimes. Each year, 6-10% of all incarcerated women are pregnant.

Adequate maternal care for inmates has multiple components. Do they have access to prenatal care? Are they allowed more food? If they sleep on a top bunk can they be moved to a bottom bunk? Is access to mental health services provided to help with post-partum issues that may arise as the result of separation from their infant? Can the women breastfeed? Is shackling used?

Restraining women during labor and delivery and post-labor poses potential harms to the health of the mother as well as the baby.  The National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with numerous other notable organizations advise against shackling pregnant women. However, it is up to state and local jurisdictions to decide. While some states and local leaders have made great strides to prohibit shackling of pregnant women, many still have not enacted laws to protect pregnant inmates against this inhumane treatment. (more…)

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Reproductive Justice, Stratified Reproduction & the Importance of Ethnography in Improving Reproductive Health Outcomes

Reproductive Justice image oneThese images illustrate the complex phenomenon of reproductive justice, an intersectional approach of working against the ways that pregnancy, birth, and mothering stratify across race, nationality, and class. That is, as I often tell my anthropology students, studying reproductive health, policy, and experiences requires paying attention to “everything else” in social, economic, and political life. In my medical anthropology research I often argue this “everything else” results in the separation between public health as developed in policy and best practices, and public health in practice as experienced by women in marginalized communities. Here, I show that ethnography (the central research method of cultural anthropology) is one tool for closing that gap and improving reproductive health delivery. Using this approach to reproduction I use examples from Black Lives Matter, my own research on maternal mortality in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the current push to defund Planned Parenthood to make that case for greater attention to cultural context and power hierarchies by policy-makers and health-care providers.

For many people Black Lives Matter and reproductive justice may seem like different issues—perhaps allied, but not necessarily connected. (more…)

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Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice Series Overview

myheadshotEach day there are approximately 353,000 babies born globally, according to UNICEF. America is actually lagging behind most industrialized countries in its maternal health quality indicators. Why is it that despite America’s high medical standards, the maternal death rate appears to be rising? While 99% of maternal death occurs in the developing world, September 2010 data ranks the US 50th in the world for maternal death.

In measuring maternal health there are multiple factors to consider: maternal death rates, infant death rates, perceived experiences of care, cost of care, and more. While statistics and numbers are important, I wanted to focus on the voices and lived experiences of women as they navigate the complex system of maternal health in the US. Some women have had incredibly positive experiences with high quality care in hospitals, birth-centers, or at home. For others, trouble stems from the lack of options, control, and autonomy as their reproductive power is stripped from them and placed in the hands of someone else. This isn’t simply an issue of class, race, geography, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or any one group alignment. The maternal health care problem our country faces is intersectional and prevalent. (more…)

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The First Year at School: Advice from a Food Allergy Mom

amanda1How did you prepare for the first year your child went to school with food allergies?

Sending my daughter to school for the first time was one of the most challenging times I’ve had as the parent of a child with food allergies. There was a great amount of anxiety, worry and concern. My daughter, Lila Kate, is allergic to milk, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and mustard. Her allergens come in many different spillable, spreadable, sticky, messy forms that are likely being consumed by most of her classmates. How could she sit with others that were eating her allergen? Would she have hurt feelings due to being different? Would her teacher treat a reaction correctly if it did happen?

Through great preparation and communication, we were able to create a plan that addressed these concerns. (more…)

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Institute for Music and Neurologic Function’s 2015 Summer Institute

Each One Counts Foundation Sponsors Institute for Music and Neurologic Function’s 2015 Summer Institute

Workshop to Explore Therapeutic Applications of Music in Pediatric Pain Management

Bronx, New York – The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a member of CenterLight Health System, will offer a two-day workshop to enhance and increase the therapeutic applications of music in pediatric pain management. Presented July 13 -14, the symposium is made possible by a generous, $10,000 grant by Each One Counts Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing complementary pain management therapies for children.

“We are grateful to Each One Counts for providing us with the opportunity to share this crucially  important work,” said Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Executive Director of The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. “It’s a privilege to help advance the foundation’s mission of providing care, relief and comfort to children in need.” (more…)

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Disruptive Woman Launches a Breakthrough in Parenting

One of the original Disruptive Women contributors, Glenna Crooks recently launched a new business. Last week the Syracuse New Times published an interview with her. Read the interview here and learn more about Sage My Life.


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Go Sit On A Sofa

Amber Coleman-MortleyIt had gotten to the point where I would find myself standing in the kitchen staring at nothing; or I would get angry for no reason; and then sometimes, a random thought would cross my mind reminding me of all of my perceived failures over the past four and a half years.  I needed some help but my own personal pride prevented me from seeking such attention.

With the kids’ needs, the responsibilities for work as well as the demands for school and other external commitments; I’d lost my very tight and very regimented method of survival to a more chaotic out of control (but thinking I’m in control) method of getting things done.  It felt like every bit of me was being pulled apart at the seams and I was barreling quickly toward a very detrimental end.  Moms are sometimes these exotic robots that handle all schedules, delays, updates and changes in a smooth and orderly fashion.  For me, a point of personal pride was my ability to schedule everything in without anyone missing out on the things that they wanted to do.  But things began to fall by the wayside. (more…)

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Teaching Kids How To Deal With Injuries

Amber Coleman-MortleyRecently our 1st grader had a really bad fall.  The fall was so bad she looked like an MMA fighter.  In many ways I wish she were fighting because the story would be a lot more interesting. But alas this was your typical young child meets concrete experience where the score was concrete 100, child 0.  I’m not certain what happened but as I turned to face her shrill scream I saw her face was scraped from top to bottom, permanent tooth chipped and pride destroyed. My heart sank when I saw her, I thought “anything else”. We’d already dump more than $1000 into her mouth from accidents with baby teeth and I thought the dental nightmare had ended with the arrival of her permanent teeth.

It was as though I didn’t react. I flew right into action. I grabbed the med kit from the car and raced back into her father’s house.  (more…)

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  • October 6th, 2014 Children and Their Networks: Do You Have a Story?
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Back to School… Co-Parenting Style

    Amber Coleman-MortleyIt’s back to school season!  Malls and stores have had their sales; schools have requested their info; doctors’ offices are quickly fulfilling vaccination and proof of appointment forms.  But most importantly, parents are eager to send their little ones off to be enriched amongst a class of their peers.  It’s a beautiful time.  It got me thinking- how can divorced and separated families be just as successful as families who are together this school year?

    There are several challenges that kids from divorced and separated homes face.  Beyond emotional challenges, there are the self-confident, psychological, economic and logistical challenges, which can be (more…)

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    An Interview with Amanda Sager

    asAmanda Sager graduated from Bridgewater College in 2009 where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis on Early Childhood Development. After college, she became the Site Director for the After School program at Cub Run Elementary in Rockingham County, Virginia. After a year at Cub Run, Amanda then moved to Mountain View Elementary in Rockingham County to open the Before and After School program as the Site Director there.  She was at Mountain View for three years before accepting the position as Behavioral Specialist at Spotswood Elementary School in Harrisonburg City. After two years at Spotswood she moved to Thomas Harrison Middle School in Harrisonburg City to work with students with autism. Amanda started at Second Home same time as she started at Thomas Harrison. (more…)

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    Disruptive Women in Health Care 2014 Summer Mini-Series: Back to School–At the Intersection of Health and Education

    elbWhen thinking of what I wanted to do with my future, the one thing I was always sure of was that I didn’t want a job where I’d be chained to a desk all day. Enter: teaching. After working as a camp counselor for many years and being fortunate enough to observe and help in a variety of different elementary school classrooms throughout the past couple of years, I’ll be starting my junior year at James Madison University in the Department of Education—and I couldn’t be more thrilled about my experiences to come. (more…)

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    Getting It Right: What Working Families Need

    Janice Lynch Schuster

    When my first child was born, in 1990, I’d been working for nearly a year as a writer for a federal contractor. Until then, health policy meant little to me. In fact, if you’d asked, I could not have told you what it was, or what it meant to my life, and the life that I was making.

    When I was hired, I read that I would be eligible for 4 or 6 weeks of maternity leave.  I also read that it took most couples a year to get pregnant: It took us a night.  It turned out that, by the time of my due date, I would be a week (more…)

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