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Apr 17

Panelists share insights on Carson v. Makin and the legal landscape … – Notre Dame Law School

On March 30, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative hosted a panel discussion that explored the dynamic and complex intersection of education and religious liberty. The event featured accomplished attorneys who have taken up cases that pose questions about the interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause in relation to educational programs.

In the discussion, titled Carson v. Makin, Parental Choice, and Religious Liberty, the panel of school choice and religious liberty experts offered their insights on the implications and impact of the Supreme Courts recent decision in Carson v. Makin, which held that religious schools must be included in private-school-choice programs. As the initial discussion about Carson v. Makin unfolded, the panelists addressed a range of other relevant topics pertaining to the legal landscape for educational programs, such as related cases outside the school choice context, as well as the development of the unconstitutional conditions doctrine.

The panelists included Michael Bindas, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice; Michael Helfand, Brenden Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion and professor of law at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law; Michael Moreland, professor of law and religion at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy; and Laura Wolk Slavis, counsel at Becket Law and a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame Law School.

Nicole Stelle Garnett, John P. Murphy Foundation professor of law and associate dean for external engagement at Notre Dame Law School, organized and moderated the panel discussion.

Bindas, a school choice litigator who leads the Institute for Justices educational choice team, kicked off the discussion by briefly summarizing the facts of Carson v. Makin and addressing the legal questions raised in the case. He served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Carson and argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The main legal question in Carson was whether a state that has a school choice program can prohibit parents from selecting schools that provide religious instruction for their children. His team contended that the exclusion of religious schools from Maines state tuition program violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

When many people think about the First Amendment, they think about the Free Speech Clause, and while thats certainly a vital protection, so, too, is the Free Exercise Clause, which enables people to live in accordance with the dictates of their faith, Bindas said. Especially of interest to me is the protection the Free Exercise Clause provides for parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. I enjoy that protection as a parent, but I also have the privilege of litigating to ensure that other parents have the ability and right to select a religious school if that is what they believe is best for their children.

According to Bindas, Carson makes clear that the Free Exercise Clause prevents the state from denying an otherwise available benefit or penalizing parents simply because they believe that a religious education is the best option for their children. Through this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has paved the way for greater school choice in the United States.

The implications of the Carson decision are not just limited to the school choice context, however. The Courts decision applies more broadly to prohibit religious discrimination in other types of public benefit programs, as well.

Helfand, who serves as co-director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion and Ethics at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, addressed the deeper underlying problems that religious discrimination creates. Reflecting on the significance of Carson v. Makin and similar cases, Helfand said, From my vantage point, withholding generally available funds from religious institutions because they are religious simply is religious discrimination. In that way, the problem isnt just that religious entities lose out on important funds and important benefits. The problem is that it singles them out, gives them less, and thereby undermines their status as equal citizens.

Both Helfand and Wolk Slavis are actively involved in the recent case Loffman v. California Department of Education, which follows a similar track of litigation to that of Carson v. Makin. In Loffman, a group of three Orthodox Jewish families and two Orthodox Jewish schools are challenging a California law that excludes religious parents and schools from using federal and state special education funding to serve children with disabilities. Wolk Slavis is part of Becket Laws litigation team that is challenging the California law based on First Amendment grounds. Helfand is also very involved in the Loffman case, having brought Becket Law together with the Jewish families and schools that filed the lawsuit.

Wolk Slavis cited similarities between Carson and Loffman. Carson made it really clear that once a state offers a public benefit, it cannot exclude otherwise eligible participants solely because they are religious, and that is what the California law is doing, Wolk Slavis said. Under Carson, their law is unconstitutional. Its very similar to the facts that were raised in Carson.

Given the U.S. Supreme Courts recent ruling in Carson v. Makin, Wolk Slavis is hopeful about the Loffman case. We are hoping that California politicians will see the writing on the wall in light of Carson, she said.

Highlighting the significance of the case, she added, The Loffman case is an example of outmoded First Amendment jurisprudence at work and how state law continues to be influenced by it, so were hopeful that Loffman will help to correct course to have state law be more in line with First Amendment principles.

Helfand believes that it will become vitally important in the coming years for the legal community to analyze the law in a wide range of jurisdictions and determine which laws violate the First Amendment. Weve got to clean up our act and make sure that benefits are equally accessible to all people regardless of their faith, he said. Every child should be able to have access to an education that meets their special needs, whether or not the school is religious.

In addition to discussing the parallels between the Carson and Loffman cases, the panelists examined regulatory strings questions and the development of the unconstitutional conditions doctrine.

Moreland believes that there has been large development of the unconstitutional conditions doctrine in regard to free speech, but much less in the free exercise context. He posed the question, Instead of prohibiting religious participation in these benefit programs, what if the government imposes conditions or strings on the recipients of these benefits? Moreland said that this is the question being posed currently in somewhat undeveloped form.

Helfand added, Now that the government has to include religious institutions in government funding programs, can it put strings on those funds in order to accomplish a new set of objectives? That is the big question. His general view is that, with the way religious liberty protections are now, the government is allowed to attach strings that are neutral and generally applicable.

Bindas considered the compelling relationship between religious liberty and education for many families. He reiterated that while religious liberty ensures that citizens are free to believe and practice their faith, it also helps to ensure that parents have the right to direct the education of their children.

Parents know better than anyone what type of education works best for their children. For some children, it might be a school with a strong STEM curriculum or a great arts program. For others, it might be a school that provides religious instruction, he said. Parents should be able to choose that type of education if they believe that is what is in the best interest of their children.

The panel discussion was part of a series of book launch events for The Case for Parental Choice: God, Family, and Educational Liberty by John E. Coons, a visionary legal scholar and ardent proponent of parental school choice. In addition to the panel event, Garnett organized a virtual book launch at which Coons, Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole, and other scholars and advocates discussed the book and the state of the current school choice movement. In the evening, the Institute for Justices Short Circuit podcast featured an episode on The Case for Parental Choice.

The book contains a collection of essays by Coons and is edited by University of Notre Dame faculty Nicole Stelle Garnett, Richard W. Garnett, and Ernest Morrell. The essays in The Case for Parental Choice examine a wide range of topics, including the relationship between parental choice and individual autonomy; the implications of American educational policy for social justice, equality, and community; the impact of education policy on low-income families; and the religious implications of parental choice. Collectively, these pieces present a morally compelling and richly humanitarian case for parental choice in childrens education. The themes developed in this book are becoming increasingly relevant today, as more states are enacting policies that empower parents to take control of their childrens education. Free copies of the book were distributed at the panel event, and many of the books themes were interwoven into the discussion.

About the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative

Established in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for all people through advocacy, formation, and thought leadership. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.

The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.

Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative at https://religiousliberty.nd.edu/.

Originally published by Arienne Calingo at religiousliberty.nd.edu on April 11, 2023.

Original post:
Panelists share insights on Carson v. Makin and the legal landscape ... - Notre Dame Law School


Apr 17

Jack Wilson Set to Join Gopher Men’s Basketball Program – GopherSports.com

University of Minnesota men's basketball head coach Ben Johnson has announced the addition of Jack Wilson to the program. Wilson, a center from Montara, Calif., is scheduled to join the Golden Gophers this summer as a graduate transfer.

"Jack is a strong, physical player who fits the Big Ten and its style of play," Johnson said. "He's a willing worker, loves to compete and is a good athlete. Over the course of his career, he's been around some great programs and understands what it takes to be successful. We're excited to have Jack join the team and look forward to working with him."

Wilson, a 6-11, 315 center, comes to Minnesota as a two-sport athlete at Washington State. In 2022-23, Wilson joined the basketball team after completing his WSU football career and appeared in 14 games this past season. Wilson was a member of the WSU football team from 2020-22 where he appeared in 25 games. Prior to his time at Washington State, Wilson played basketball at Idaho and Oregon State. In 2019-20 at Idaho, Wilson saw action in 18 games, and averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. As a freshman in 2018-19 at Oregon State, he played in seven games before transferring to Idaho. A high school athlete at Junipero Serra (Calif.), Wilson was a four-star recruit (ESPN.com) where he averaged 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a junior. A four-time all-conference selection, Wilson was also a two-time WCAL All-League Team.

Wilson is set to receive an undergraduate social science degree from Washington State and will look to obtain a master's degree from Minnesota in exercise & sports science.

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Jack Wilson Set to Join Gopher Men's Basketball Program - GopherSports.com


Apr 17

Fitness On The Go Personal Training Celebrates Milestone Of … – Digital Journal

PRESS RELEASE

Published April 10, 2023

Fitness On The Go Personal Training is celebrating a major milestone they have serviced their 15,000th customer since the company was founded in 2005. This Canadian-based fitness and in-home personal training company has helped countless clients reach their health and wellness goals over the last fifteen years.

Dan Mezheritsky, Founder of Fitness On The Go states, It feels fantastic knowing how many Canadians trust our personal trainers with their fitness. With this milestone under their belt, the company is now the largest in-home personal training brand in Canada.

What sets Fitness On The Go apart from other in-home personal training companies is its commitment to making fitness accessible and achievable for everyone. Their team of certified personal trainers customize exercise programs specifically designed to meet their clients individual needs and goals. All thats required is a six foot by six foot space and fifty to fifty-five minutes of each clients time.

Fitness On The Gos dedication to helping people stay fit and healthy has led them to reach their milestone of 15,000 customers. They know that, with hard work and dedication, any fitness goal can be achieved no matter how big or small.

Visit https://fitnessonthego.ca to learn more.

Media ContactCompany Name: Fitness on the GoContact Person: Beth SpoonerEmail: Send EmailCity: TorontoCountry: CanadaWebsite: https://fitnessonthego.ca/

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Fitness On The Go Personal Training Celebrates Milestone Of ... - Digital Journal


Apr 17

Farmington Community Calendar: Things to do in Northern New … – The Durango Herald

Author Robin Wall Kimmerer will speak at Connie Gotsch Theatre April 21. (Courtesy photo)

Farmington

April 1-27

San Juan College will host a variety of activities for Sexual Assault Awareness month. Details: bit.ly/43bfhCO.

Friday, April 14

Raindrops grand opening, 4 p.m., Raindrops of the Four Corners, 2621 E. 20th St. Celebrating the stores grand opening with a ribbon cutting, giveaways and food.

Karaoke night with DJ Microband, 6-10 p.m., Locke Street Eats, 112 N. Locke Ave. Free. Sing along to favorite tunes with family and friends. No outside food or drinks allowed.

AstroFriday, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., San Juan College Planetarium, 4601 College Blvd. The presentation will be Flight Adventures. A stargaze will follow at 9:30 if weather permits. Details: http://www.facebook.com/sanjuancollegeplanetarium.

West African drumming ensemble, 7-9 p.m., Connie Gotsch Theatre, 4601 College Blvd. $8 adults, $6 seniors, free for children 12 years old and younger. Enjoy and evening of world music led by Dr. Teun Fetz and featuring Male Fainke. Tickets: online, at the SJC bookstore and at the door.

Two Guys Comedy show, 7:30 p.m., Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. $14-$18. Mark Riccadonna and Tom Briscoe bring their quick wit, timing and rapport drawn from decades of comedy, show business and friendship to make every show hilariously fresh. Tickets: fmtn.org/shows.

Friday-Saturday, April 14-15

Rope for the Big Bucks Classic, 3-7 p.m., McGee Park, 41 County Road 5568. Two arenas will feature roping, rain or shine. Friday events include Masters Saddle Roping and No. 11 Slide-Cash Roping. Saturday events include No. 10.5 and No. 8.5 Cash Roping. This is a family-friendly event. Details: http://www.facebook.com/events/1312753572637796.

Saturday, April 15

Twin Falls Trail hike, bus leaves at 8 a.m., Farmington Museum, 3041 E. Main St. $30-$35. For hikers 16 years old and older. A sack lunch is included. The 6-mile trail is located near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona and is rated moderate. Pack plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and appropriate shoes. To register, call (505) 599-1400.

Locke Street Eats flea market, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Locke Street Eats, 112 N. Locke Ave. Shop a variety of vendors and enjoy a meal from one of the sites food trucks.

Spring Dumpster Weekend, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Berg Park, 514 Scott Ave. Farmington residents may drop off yard trimmings, metal, household nonhazardous trash, yard waste and electronic waste, including televisions. Details: (505) 599-1426.

Poetry reading and book signing with Samuel Galbraith, 1-3 p.m., Amys Bookcase, 2530 San Juan Blvd. Celebrate Poetry Month with semi-local poet Samuel Galbraith as he shares from his first book, Mismatched Perceptions.

Comedy Night, 8-10 p.m., SunRay Park and Casino, 39 County Road 5568. Ron Morey and special guest, Brian Kohatsu, will perform.

Tuesday, April 18

Lunch Out Tuesday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Ice Age Frozen Yogurt and Caffeine Bar, 4005 E. Main St., Suite C. Support local businesses and meet a member of Farmington Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, April 20

National CTE Letter of Intent signing day, 9-11 a.m., Connie Gotsch Theatre at San Juan College. Celebrate students as they sign letters of intent to attend San Juan Colleges Career Technical Education Programs in the summer or fall.

One Book, One Community Book panel of runners, 3:30-5 p.m., San Juan College Suns Room. Free. Guests Timberlin Henderson, Jeri Hogue, Karen Krob and Scott Robinson will answer running-related questions. Campus trail maps will be offered to attendees. Details: cooperan@sanjuancollege.edu.

Business after Hours, 5-7 p.m., Los Hermanitos, 2400 W. Main St. Free. Hosted by Farmington Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, April 21

Talk by author Robin Wall Kimmerer, 6 p.m., San Juan College Connie Gotsch Theatre. Free. The talk is hosted by Broadening Horizons Lecture Series. Wall Kimmerer will discuss her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Details: (505) 566-3430.

Friday-Sunday, April 21-23

Annual Indoor and Outdoor Car show, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-noon Sunday, McGee Park, 41 County Road 5568. Free. Northern New Mexico Street Rodders presents the 39th annual Land of Enchantment car show. View old and new cars while enjoying live music and concessions. Details: http://www.northernnewmexicostreetrodders.com.

April 21, 22, 28-30

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Totah Theater, 315 W. Main St. $10-$12. Presented by Theater Ensemble Arts. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Tickets: theater-ensemble-arts.square.site. Details: (505) 326-2839, teartsnm@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 22

Spring Craft Fair, 8 a.m.-noon, Calvary Chapel Farmington, 6925 E. Main St. Free. Support area crafters, artisans and small business owners. Details: (505) 326-0604.

Locke Street Eats flea market, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Locke Street Eats, 112 N. Locke Ave. Shop a variety of vendors and enjoy a meal from one of the sites food trucks.

Chokecherry Canyon spring cleanup, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Chokecherry Canyon and The Glade. Lunch and water provided. Collect trash to receive raffle tickets. Raffle prizes are offered by area businesses. Details: (505) 686-383.

Four Corners Christian Womens Conference New Beginnings, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Henderson Fine Arts Conference Center, 4601 College Blvd. $35, includes lunch. The keynote speaker will be Anita Keagy with other featured guests. Reservations: http://www.houseswithhope.org or (505) 635-8315.

Earth Day, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Berg Park Little Pavilion, 400 Scott Ave. Participate in earth-friendly activities with Farmington Clean and Beautiful and the City of Farmington PRCA Department.

Kinseys Spring Classic, 9 a.m., Lions Wilderness Park. $65 cyclist, $45 tech personnel, $25 children. The Kids Race for cyclists 9 years old and younger begins at 9 a.m. The 30-mile XC race begins at 11 a.m. Male and female pro purses will be $500, $250 and $100. Presented by Sandstone Cycles and other sponsors. Register: my.raceresult.com/232236.

Health and Safety fair, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. Free. Visit a variety of vendors providing health and safety information. Details: (505) 566-2482.

Live music with Fools Gold band, 6-10 p.m., Locke Street Eats, 112 N. Locke Ave. Free. Fools Gold band plays country, rock, blues and Spanish music. No outside food or drinks. Attendees may bring chairs.

Carvin Jones in concert, 8-10 p.m., Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. $25. Jones is a blues frontman who was voted one of the 50 greatest blues guitarists of all time by Guitarist Magazine. Tickets: http://www.carvinjones.com/band.

Sunday, April 23

San Juan Symphony: Poetry in Motion, 3-4:30 p.m., Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall, 4601 College Blvd. $30. San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform side-by-side with San Juan Symphony for the first time. Music director Thomas Heuser will lead the double orchestra in a challenging repertoire. Tickets: http://www.sanjuansymphony.org.

Tuesday, April 25

Storyteller: Guardian Initiatives, 6-7 p.m., Farmington Public Library multipurpose room, 2101 Farmington Ave. Team Guardian will speak on their 3,000 rowing journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Details: (505) 566-2210 or amwussow@infoway.org.

Wednesday, April 26

Business Builder workshop, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Artifacts Gallery, 302 E. Main St. Free. Learn tactics to revise, review or revamp a marketing program with Local New Network and Farmington Chamber of Commerce. Details: (970) 300-3428.

Thursday, April 27

Focus on Farmington Coffee, 8 a.m. San Juan College School of Energy, 4601 College Blvd. Free. Hosted by Four Corners Energy Conference. Details: Jamie Church at (505) 325-0279 or jamie@gofarmington.com.

Friday, April 28

Fourth annual Dia de Los Ninos, 9 a.m.-noon, San Juan College Learning Commons Plaza. Free. Enjoy this family-friendly event and learn about an array of children's summer activities. Luke Renner, the Yo-Yo Slinger, will also perform. Details: bit.ly/3GjHygD.

San Juan College mascot launch party, 2-4 p.m., San Juan College Learning Commons Plaza. Meet the colleges new mascot and take photos with him. Enjoy food, drinks, music and games.

Flashlight Night Hike, 7-9 p.m., San Juan College HHPC. Free. Hikers of all levels of fitness are invited to hike and make smores. Register online at http://www.imleagues.com/sjc. Details: Erica at rawsone@sanjuancollege.edu or (505) 566-3819.

San Juan College Symphonic Band concert, 7-9 p.m., Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall. $6-$8. Conducted by Dr. Teun B. Fetz, the band will play a variety of up-tempo music, with a mix of lovely lyrical songs. Tickets: bit.ly/417mPVv.

Live music with Onry Ozzborn, 7:30 p.m., Lauter Haus, 1806 E. 20th St. $10. Special guests include Sleep and UBO. Presented by Conscious Roots & Rocky Mountain Cannabis. Tickets: holdmyticket.com/event/409360.

Saturday, April 29

Museum Edventure, all day, tours begin at Farmington Museum & Visitor Center, 3041 E. Main St. $85-$95. Explore the cultural heritage of the Four Corners on an all-day field trip to Canyon de Chelly. For those 16 years old and older. The program includes transportation.

Locke Street Eats craft fair, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Locke Street Eats, 112 N. Locke Ave. Shop a variety of makers and artists while enjoying a meal from one of the sites food trucks.

Community yard sale, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Acts Christian Academy, 2600 N. Sullivan Ave. $30 space rental. Donated items will be accepted through April 26. Details: (505) 326-5149.

Dia de los Ninos celebration, 9 a.m.-noon, San Juan College Learning Commons plaza, 4601 College Blvd. Celebrate Childrens Day with San Juan College and area performers, organizations, libraries and clubs. A variety of family-friendly activities will be offered. Details: farmingtonnm.org/events/dia-de-los-ninos.

Independent Bookstore Day and book signing, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Amy's Bookcase, 2530 San Juan Blvd. Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day while building community.

Bark in the Park and Doggie Dash, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Animas Park parking lot. Join Farmington Regional Animal Shelter for a day of family fun that celebrates animal welfare. The Doggie Dash starts at 10 a.m. Vendors, the adoptable pet parade, entertainment and more will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration for the Doggie Dash is free and early registration provides a T-shirt and doggie bandanna. Details: farmingtonnm.org/events/bark-in-the-park-doggie-dash.

Getn Chizzy with It stand up comedy performance, 8:15-midnight, Dinos Hideaway Bar, 405 County Road 390. $20-$25 for VIP, $15 at the door. Meet and greet at 7 p.m. Doors open at 7:45 p.m.

Mondays

Storytime, 11 a.m., 2 p.m.., Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave. Free. Storytime for children ages 6 to 11. Details: (505) 599-1270.

Bridge, 12:30 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex multipurpose room, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Mexican Train dominoes, 12:30-3:30 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex sun room, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Disc golf in the park, 2 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. Join San Juan Basin Disc Golf club to play disc golf in all weather. Bring discs. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Arts and crafts for kids, 4 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. Free. For ages 6 to 12 years old. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Singo, 6 p.m., Inspired Moments Event Center, 310 W. Main St. $10. Two games played per night. Prizes awarded. No registration required. Details: http://www.facebook.com/InspiredMomentsVenue.

Farmington Composite Squadron meeting, 6:30 p.m., Four Corners Regional Airport, 1296 Navajo St. Learn more about the Civil Air Patrol and meet members. Details: (505) 215-3097, info@nmcap.us.

Tuesdays

Crafty Ladies, 9 a.m.-noon, Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex multipurpose room, 109 E. La Plata St. $3. Crafty ladies who enjoy making a different craft each week. Preregistration required. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Writing Class, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex studio room, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. A group of patrons who like to write books, poems and short stories. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Quilting & Sewing, 10:30-3:30 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex sunroom, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Join others to socialize while working on individual projects. Supply your own materials. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Storytime, 11 a.m., Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave. Free. Storytime for children ages 6 to 11. Details: (505) 599-1270.

Hooks and Needles, 1 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex sunroom, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Participate in crocheting and needlepoint projects. All skill levels. Supply your own materials. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Hip Hop dance class, 5 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. Free. Learn choreography and freestyle dancing. Ages 6 and older. Open to all ability levels. Registration recommended. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Bible study and potluck dinner, 6 p.m., Calvary Chapel Farmington, 6925 E. Main St. Youths books $10, adult books $35. Potluck at 6 p.m. Childcare provided. Details: calvaryfarmington.com.

Community line dance class, 6-7:30 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. Free. Taught by Joyce Barrett. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Basketball open gym, 6-8 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center Harv Henry Gym, 1051 Sycamore St. Free. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Four Corners Old Car Club meeting, 6:30 p.m., San Juan College room 9012. The club meets every third Tuesday of the month. Details: (505) 716-7100.

Northern New Mexico Street Rodders, 7 p.m., SunRay Park and Casino Sting Ray Room, 39 County Road 5568. The group meets every second Tuesday of the month. Next meeting is March 14. Details: http://www.northernnewmexicostreetrodders.com.

Wednesdays

Navajo Bible Study, 10-11 a.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex room, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Bible study covers traditional Scriptures and singing in the Navajo language. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Toddler playdate, 10 a.m.-noon, E3 Children's Museum and Science Center, 302 N. Orchard Ave. Free. Designed for families with young children to develop early motor skills and find new playmates. Details: (505) 599-1425.

Beadwork, 1-3 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex sunroom, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Join others to socialize while working on individual projects in this Native American art style. Supply your own materials. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Ceramics, 1-3:30 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center art studio, 109 E. La Plata St. Join Holly and Tina to work on painting ceramics and socializing. Fees may be required for some supplies. Details: (505) 599-1380

Untangled Threads, 2 p.m., Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave. Free. Bring knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch, or more and chat with other people who also like doing crafts. Details: (505) 599-1270.

Afterschool Art! Attack, 3:45-4:30 p.m., E3 Children's Museum and Science Center, 302 N. Orchard Ave. Free. Explore new art techniques. Ages 6 and older. Details: (505) 599-1425.

Dodgeball, 4 p.m., Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. All ages. Details: (505) 566-2480.

Paint night, 6 p.m., Inspired Moments Event Center, 310 W. Main St. $30. Various themes. All supplies are included. Additional paints nights are listed online at http://www.facebook.com/InspiredMomentsVenue. Registration is required. Register: (505) 360-3430.

Marine Corps League Detachment 736 monthly meeting, 6 p.m., Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. The group meets on the first Monday of the month.

Rockstar bingo, 6:30 p.m., Traegers, 5170 College Blvd. Details: http://www.traegersbar.com.

Thursdays

Mental Health Task Force meeting, 9 a.m., virtually with San Juan Safe Communities Initiative. The meeting is held on the first Thursday of every month. To join, contact Gretchen Potter at GAPotter@wellpath.us or (505) 860-3365, or Greg Allen at gregallen@sjsci.org.

San Juan County Seed Savers and Permaculture meeting, 10 a.m.-noon, The Harvest Food Hub, 310 W. Animas St. Discuss gardening practices, prepare seeds for libraries and experiment with plant varieties. The group meets every second Thursday of the month.

Bible Study, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex room, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Bible study covers traditional Scriptures and fellowship. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Milk and cookies meetup, 10:30-11:30 a.m., E3 Childrens Museum and Science Center, 302 N. Orchard Ave. Free. Meet other breastfeeding and chest-feeding families, learn about local resources and build a community of support. Cookies are provided. Details: breastfeedingnm.org.

Trivia Lounge, 1 p.m., Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex, 109 E. La Plata St. Free. Details: (505) 599-1380.

Simply Science, 3:45-4:30 p.m., E3 Children's Museum and Science Center, 302 N. Orchard Ave. Free. Participate in simple science experiments. Dress in clothes that can get messy. Ages 6 and older. Details: (505) 599-1425.

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Farmington Community Calendar: Things to do in Northern New ... - The Durango Herald


Apr 17

Alpena’s Pretty Deadly Self Defense class first in the U.S. – Alpena News

News Photo by Darby Hinkley A group of women in Cristi Johnsons Pretty Deadly Self Defense class participate in an exercise in which they encircle a classmate and take turns approaching her pretending to be an assailant and the middle participant practices her self-defense skills learned in class.

ALPENA A self-defense course that uses different techniques than many other programs has come to the U.S., and Alpena graduated its first class on Monday night.

The Pretty Deadly Self Defense program has gained popularity around the world, with classes being taught in Europe, Asia and Africa. This year, they certified their first two North American Trainers, one of whom is Cristi Johnson, owner of SkellaFit in Alpena. Master Trainer Cristi Skella Johnson, operates her practice out of Joshua Tree Studio in Alpena, and now represents the U.S. as its first Master Trainer.

The first seeds for Pretty Deadly Self Defense were sewn in Chicago, when I developed an early version of the program for my mom, Pretty Deadly Self Defense Founder Susie Kahlich said in a press release. As the Pretty Deadly program has grown in Europe and the U.K., its always been my dream to see it return home one day, back to the U.S.A. Coach Skellas Pretty Deadly course isnt just her first graduating class, they are the very first Pretty Deadly graduates in the United States and I couldnt be more proud and excited.

Johnson is honored and excited for the opportunity.

Being invited to lead the team of Pretty Deadly Trainers in the U.S. is nothing short of a dream for me, Johnson said. As a personal trainer, I found there was a common theme among the women I worked with. Many were interested in learning self-defense, but they were not comfortable with the traditional class structures that were being offered.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Graduates of the Pretty Deadly Self Defense course are pictured at Joshua Tree Studio in Alpena, where classes are held. Pictured in back, from left, are Candy Dwyer, Michele Heinzel, Rachar Ruczynski, and Nichole Seres. Pictured in front, from left, are instructor Cristi Johnson, Sara Verville, Katie Jones, and Heather Sutton. Not pictured are graduates Pam Joslin and Harriet Pinger.

She said Pretty Deadly is different because it takes into account the fact that many people who are concerned about being attacked or assaulted have been victims before.

Rarely, if ever, do self-defense workshops consider how the training may affect those who have been victims of violence, Johnson said. Pretty Deadly is not only thoughtful and trauma-informed, but they also approach how the class is taught in a way that people enjoy. It is a comfortable, empowering environment with an emphasis on fun, where women can come together to learn. I love everything about this program, and Im proud to represent the U.S. as we grow our outreach worldwide.

In the final class of a six-week course on Monday evening, participants were not only demonstrating the skills they had learned, but they were clearly having a good time, laughing with each other and helping each other hone their skills.

This is an uplifting experience, and she makes it fun, even though the content can be serious, class participant Katie Jones said of Johnson. Cristi puts on a lot of classes, and theyre all amazing. I train with her.

Jones said she learned a new approach to self-defense. She said other things she had learned before were more fear-based, but this program is more reactionary and about trusting your body and your intuition to know what to do in the situation.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Instructor Cristi Johnson helps Katie Jones and Heather Sutton with some defense moves on Monday evening before graduation certificates were issued at the conclusion of class.

It just feels natural, she said. Its good stuff to think about, and feel confident about.

Classmate Michele Heinzel said the class was empowering.

Cristi does an amazing job, and she makes you feel so at ease, Heinzel said. It sounded like a fun way to have some me time and also do something active One of the things Cristi taught us, from day one, is to trust your body, and she had us do this exercise where we lean forward until we catch ourselves, and she told us, Thats your body knowing instinctively what to do, and how to protect you.'

She added that the goal is to get away from the violence, not to fight like a ninja.

Shes teaching you how to think, get them away, make space, and run, Heinzel explained. Shes teaching you how to stay safe, and not so much get in a fight. She said A fight is an invitation. Were just trying to get you home safe.'

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Candy Dwyer hits a handheld pad held by Sara Verville on Monday night while Rachar Ruczynski looks on in the background during a Pretty Deadly class.

Heinzel added that the positive group atmosphere was awesome.

It was so much fun being able to hang out with a bunch of women and have fun and laugh, she said. Were just here to learn some cool skills and have a good time.

Johnson said the main goal of the class is to equip people with knowledge and skills that will help them stay safe when dangerous situations arise.

She said a local counselor approached her about looking into getting certified for the training because many people think they are ready for danger, but may not know how to properly protect themselves. Someone who had been previously assaulted was scared it might happen again so they had been carrying a roll of quarters in their hand at night in case something happened, but if you punch someone with a roll of quarters in your fist, you would break your hand. That was explained to the person, who was not aware that could happen. This type of self-defense course gives common-sense solutions to addressing and fleeing violent situations.

I searched high and low for a certification program that really gelled with me, and when I came across Pretty Deadly, it was without question the program I wanted to be a part of, Johnson said. Im so in love with this program because we break things down from minor aggressions and work it all the way up to a very violent attack, and how to handle all of those things If you feel empowered to do something in that scenario, you can possibly stop that pattern of violence before it escalates.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley The women in Cristi Johnsons Pretty Deadly Self Defense class have fun while learning moves to protect themselves in class on Monday evening.

She said this first class was for women ages 18 and up, but that she plans to offer programs for different age groups and all people.

Coach Skella and her class are leading the way as we expand across North America, and its all thanks to Cristis passion and commitment to recognizing the strength in every woman, and helping all of us bloom, added Kahlich.

Its never been taught in this format in the U.S., Johnson added. Im so stoked that it was in Alpena.

The next Pretty Deadly Self Defense six week course will launch on May 1 at Joshua Tree in Alpena. Anyone who is interested can pre-register at skellafit.com.

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Cristi Johnson demonstrates a move with the help of Nichole Seres.

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Apr 6

St Ambrose University Recognized by Exercise is Medicine for … – River Cities Reader

DAVENPORT, IOWA (April 5, 2023) St Ambrose University (SAU) is one of only 149 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus. Faculty and staff health-coaching programs, walking groups, educational seminars, and plogging initiatives helped SAUs chapter earn silver-level designation from the Exercise is Medicine On Campus (EIM-OC) program.

We are thrilled to recognize these campuses commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and give students the tools to cultivate physical-activity habits that will benefit them throughout their lives, said Robyn Stuhr, Vice President of Exercise is Medicine. These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine: making physical-activity assessment and promotion a standard in health-care.

SAUs EIM-OC chapter was started in 2018 and currently has over fifty active student members. Led by Christopher Schwartz PhD and Erica Thomas DHEd/CHES/ACSM-PT, the group hosts a daily walking group and gym equipment-training sessions as well as a host of health seminars to educate the campus on topics ranging from exercise and nutrition to behavior change and mental well-being. In Spring 2022, they started a one-on-one health-coaching program that allows students to work closely with staff and faculty to meet their wellness goals. The students were trained on behavior-change techniques and motivational interviewing skills to empower clients to engage in positive behavior change. In October of 2022, the group hosted Plog-o-ganza, a plogging event that combines walking and jogging while picking up litter around the community.

I brought Exercise is Medicine to our campus to provide health and wellness resources and events to SAU and the surrounding community, said Schwartz, SAU EIM-OC faculty leader. What we want most from our program is to create an educational and accessible environment for everyone to engage in healthy activities and learn how to use it in their everyday lives. We hope to continue to expand our work beyond St Ambrose campus, and to work with local health leaders and organizations to promote physical activity and wellness throughout the QC area.

Of the 149 campuses recognized this year, 73 received gold, 55 silver, and 21 bronze. All gold, silver, and bronze universities and colleges will be officially recognized on June 1 as part of the 2022 Exercise is Medicine World Congress, held in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicines Annual Meeting.

EIM-OC calls upon universities and colleges to promote physical activity as a vital sign of health and encourages faculty, staff, and students to work together to improve the health and well-being of the campus community.

EIM-OC launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn gold, silver, or bronze status based on their activities. Gold-level campuses have created a referral system where campus health-care providers assess student physical activity and refer students as necessary to a certified fitness professional as part of medical treatment. Silver campuses engage students, faculty, and staff in education initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus culture while bronze-level campuses promote and generate awareness of the health benefits of physical activity.

View a complete list of recognized schools and learn more about the EIM-OC program at exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php/eim-on-campus/.

About Exercise Is Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) co-launched Exercise is Medicine (EIM) in 2007 with the American Medical Association. ACSM continues to manage the global health initiative, which seeks to make physical-activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health-care with evidence-based physical-activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions, and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health-care. Visit ExerciseisMedicine.org for additional information.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports-medicine and exercise-science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports-medicine. More details at acsm.org.

About St Ambrose University

Founded in 1882 by the Diocese of Davenport, St Ambrose Universitys commitment to academic excellence, the liberal arts, social justice, and service is rooted in its Catholic intellectual tradition. The leading, private university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than sixty undergraduate majors, eleven Masters degrees, and three doctoral programs. One-hundred and thirty years since its inception, St Ambrose education remains centered on intentional, holistic, and experiential learning to develop high-impact world shapers in every field. To learn more about St Ambrose University, visit sau.edu/.

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Apr 6

Adults, seniors, retirees can find exercise all around on Western Edge – The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON You see that light at the end of the winter tunnel? You feel the temperatures slacking up and the possibilities lining up for outdoor exercise? Do you feel like Punxsutawney Phil has moved next door to you here in Dickinson and he saw his shadow again-again?

Your winter blues are shared by pretty much everybody at this point, but for those people who are looking for ways to get outdoors especially senior citizens and retirees there are abundant opportunities just around the corner. Whether its a program at West River Community Center or some items on the area events calendar, there are plenty of ways for people to shake off that winter weight and get moving again (just so long as the weather complies soon, we hope).

Among some of the items that are easily accessible will be the coming league softball season, the registration for which is on Thursday, April 6. The league is for young adults and older, between the ages of 16 and up (those younger than 18 must have parental approval), and the league gets started May 15. For more information, please visit https://dickinsonparks.org/activities/softball-league/ .

For those who are interested in getting into the outdoorsy pursuit of hiking and are eagerly wanting to get outside and camp, a great way to see some of the best natural amenities in the entire country would be to get out to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for free-entrance day on April 16, which is less than two weeks away. The park, located just outside of Medora west on Interstate 94 will be welcoming guests for free that day in honor of National Park Week and also has three more free-entrance days scheduled on Aug. 4, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11 of this year. All are great opportunities to place on the future calendar for everybody and anybody to enjoy.

But here a little closer to home, people are anticipating next week, when the temperatures are allegedly going to rise into the 60s or 70s and we will believe THAT when we see it and folks will be wanting to get outdoors and flex their muscles. West River Community Center has been hosting a gang of activities during the winter this year, which has admittedly dragged on for far too long, and now people are seeing the grass starting to shoot through the snow as the ice recedes into a hopefully distant memory.

But in the meantime, Brianna Baker, who is the group fitness coordinator at West River and contributes to senior program development for Silver Sneakers as well, has been working on ways for folks to get the joints limbered up and the blood flowing to the extremities. Among the most-popular senior activities always will be the beautiful Heart River Golf Course with its driving range and other attractions but people also stay active on local hiking trails, tennis courts, in pickleball and in the weight room or on the community centers walking track.

I think the biggest part of what we try to do for our senior programming or what I try to do is to inspire older adults to just live a healthier, fuller and longer life, Baker said. So, a lot of our seniors have done the work and theyve put in the time and theyre just looking for a way to just extend their lives.

So, with the senior programming at the community center and through Dickinson Parks & Rec in general, we like to lead our seniors into different experiences and those experiences will help them adapt their lives through limitations they might come upon as they grow older.

Baker said the programs are designed to flow evenly from winter to spring and on to summer, building as they go.

A body in motion stays in motion, Baker said. I just preach that because it also keeps your mind sharp and strong.

There also is a group of older adults who get together monthly through Silver Sneakers a program encouraged by most retirees insurance programs at a reduced or free cost and is for those 65 and older. Through the program at WRCC, there are fitness classes almost every day of the week, Monday to Friday, that includes everything from aqua aerobics to lifting weights that can be either in a chair or free-weights. There also are yoga stretch classes and cardio classes at varying times throughout the year. There also will soon be walking challenge opened up for all members of the community center to participate in throughout the summer that is called "Walking Bingo," where participants meet certain challenges after registering and receiving their bingo cards each square represents a different area from Crooked Crane Trail, interval training or n evening walk with a friend and designed to encourage daily activity.

"Walking is such an underrated exercise and it's one of the best for your heart," Baker said. "We slowly transition from our winter activities into summer, and we also have offered morning outdoor aerobics and I'm hoping to do that again. All of these classes are included in the membership at West River Community Center."

Baker said all folks have to do is call or visit the Web site to find out more.

We have a wide variety of opportunities on land or in the water and classes that we offer, and bi-monthly and quarterly we have a potluck club, where I like to get everybody together and we ask men and women to bring something to share when we get together, Baker said. And we visit and enjoy coffee and in the future were looking to bring in speakers for the club, whether its a health-care professional or somebody who can answer questions about aging of bloodwork or thyroid work or something like that.

We just like to keep the senior community engaged, in not only fitness but each other.

For more information about the West River Community Center, please visit 2004 Fairway Drive in Dickinson or the Web site at https://westrivercommunitycenter.com/ . They also can be reached at 701-456-2070. For more information about the communitys coming events calendar, please visit https://www.visitdickinson.com/events .

Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.

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Adults, seniors, retirees can find exercise all around on Western Edge - The Dickinson Press


Apr 6

7 Ways to Meet Your Fitness Goals on a Limited Budget – The Motley Fool

It's possible to prioritize fitness goals without going broke.

Regular exercise can improve mood, reduce stress, and strengthen your body. While there are many costly fitness and health programs available, you don't have to spend a lot of money if you want to prioritize your fitness goals. Many low-cost and free resources are available to help you succeed as you navigate your personal fitness journey.

If you're on a limited budget and want to stay active, look for free or low-cost classes in your community. Some fitness instructors offer "pay what you can" classes to encourage more community members to work out regardless of their financial situation. Don't miss out on opportunities like this.

Some people like to work out at home so they don't have to commit to an expensive monthly gym membership. Fitness equipment doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you want to create a gym space at home, consider buying second-hand fitness equipment. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local community groups are great places to find used fitness gear for sale.

When the weather cooperates, take your fitness routine outdoors. You can walk, jog, run, or hike outdoors for free. While this may not be an option during the colder winter months or on rainy days, it could help you save money when the weather is nice.

Your health insurance could unlock fitness discounts. If you have health insurance, be sure to review your benefits before investing in fitness expenses. Some insurers offer discounted gym memberships or discounts on fitness equipment and fitness trackers. You may also want to review your employee benefits occasionally to avoid missing out on valuable perks. Some companies provide health and wellness perks that could help you waste less money.

Many towns and cities provide affordable fitness solutions to the community. If you want to join a gym or participate in group fitness classes without draining your checking account, check to see if any community centers in your area offer cheap fitness memberships. Often, community-focused fitness programs are cheaper than other health and fitness businesses.

A monthly fitness class program or gym membership can be pricey. But the good news is that many businesses offer discounts to new customers so they can test out classes and equipment before committing to an expensive plan. As a new customer, you may be able to take advantage of a free trial or low-cost pass or may be able to accompany another member for free. Trials can help you decide if a membership is worth the cost before investing.

No matter your specific goals, many free resources are available online. Whether you're looking for a fitness plan, a nutrition guide, or a workout video -- you can probably find resources online for free. Free resources like this can help you spend less money.

Even if money is tight, it's possible to prioritize your fitness and personal finance goals at the same time. Look for ways to save and take advantage of freebies, so you don't overspend. You may be surprised at how many affordable health and wellness resources are available.

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7 Ways to Meet Your Fitness Goals on a Limited Budget - The Motley Fool


Apr 6

The Best Treadmills on Sale | Top Treadmill Deals 2023 – Runner’s World

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If you care about your heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled, or other vital stats, the treadmill comes with a wireless hub that can fit easily on the corner of your desk. The hub also has a set of controls for easy adjustments even while working.

Associate Commerce Editor

Tom Price is an Associate Editor of Commerce for Popular Mechanics, and also contributes to Runner's World, and Bicycling. He has previously covered product reviews, startup news, and even professional wrestling. In his free time, he enjoys watching pretentious TV, low-brow movies, and exercising for beauty, not health. If you are interested in exploring more of his work, check out his website.

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Apr 6

SIU criminology program using virtual reality to better understand … – SIU News

Jamie Stephens, a masters student in SIUs criminology and criminal justice program, works through a virtual reality scenario last fall of a call for service of a disorderly person at a residence with Kevin Cox, SIU Department of Public Safety, observing. The program is using the VR simulator to give students greater insight into law enforcement challenges and providing a research mechanism on attitudes toward police work. (Photo by Yenitza Melgoza)

April 05, 2023

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. A virtual reality simulator in Southern Illinois University Carbondales criminology and criminal justice program will provide students greater insight into law enforcement challenges, while also providing a research mechanism to study aspects of police work.

With the help of grants from the College of Health and Human Sciences DEVELOP (Developing, Elevating, and Leading Educational Opportunities and Programs) and the SIU Foundation Faculty Research programs, the APEX Officer system was installed last fall. Since then, Matthew Giblin, School of Justice and Public Safety director, and two criminology graduate assistants, Jamie Stephens and Samantha Barnhart, began enlisting students to gauge attitudes toward police work both before and after participating in the survey and exercise. By mid-March, 70 students participated in the study in the lab space in Faner Hall or in Mae Smith and Neely Halls.

While most students in the program have an interest in policing careers, Giblin is quick to point out that the system is not used to teach police tactics.

What we are trying to demonstrate with our system is the challenges that law enforcement officers face in police decision-making, he said. How difficult split-second decision-making is; how difficult it is to fire a weapon; how difficult it is to fire a weapon accurately. Those are what we are trying to demonstrate. All that can be done without having to teach tactics and strategies.

Different scenarios, environments and outcomes available

Unlike screen-based simulators, the VR experience allows the operator to change scenarios including traffic stops, city neighborhoods, streets, neighborhoods and alleys. And the operator, or trainer, can also change how the VR people with the scenarios interact with students. Throughout the exercise, students wear about a 15-pound backpack featuring a high-end computer equipped with a realistic rifle, pistol and taser.

The system is completely responsive to whoever is being trained, and scenarios can extend as long as needed to accomplish the purpose of the exercise, Giblin said.

If we have you in the training module and you are saying to the citizen in the module, put your hands up, we can make them comply or not. Its not based on what has already been filmed, he said. The idea behind it is that not everything should be a shoot/no shoot decision. The reality is that police use of force is rare so any training system should promote the type of interaction strategies making force unnecessary through say, effective communication, but also prepares officers for situations when force may have to be used.

The experiences can be eye-opening for students, said Giblin, noting the idea is to show students some of the decision-making involved.

Faculty can take a class where they are talking about police decision-making and let students gain firsthand experiences, Giblin said. We can actually have people comply with those kinds of communications. You can actually get people in our system to respond positively to respectful communication and promote that that kind of behavior so its not just resorting to force. I think the idea is to take what we talk about in the classroom when we look at research evidence and apply that or give them to opportunity to experience that.

Used by police nationwide

Some colleges have simulators connected to campus law enforcement agencies or, less commonly, criminal justice programs, Giblin said. The city of Carbondale Police Department also has an Apex Officer VR simulator that the officers train on regularly. Giblin said the program was able to bring back useful training information and scenarios after meeting with Carbondale officials in December.

Benjamin Newman, director, SIU Department of Public Safety, said police officers used the programs system when it was originally acquired last year, and that VR systems help build repetition and improve decision making.

These systems allow trainees to experience service calls in a controlled environment, he said. Trainers are afforded the opportunity to provide coaching in relational and tactical skills.

Myriad research possibilities

Giblin sees numerous research possibilities across several educational areas and topics.

From a research perspective, the system will allow us to study topics like stress, procedural justice, implicit biases, he said.

Another example, he said, could be utilizing the kinesiology program to monitor anticipatory stress levels as students or officers would go through various scenarios.

Stephens and Barnhart each said they believe the VR simulator will be useful for students and provide them with a hands-on approach. Barnhart, who is from Belleville, earned a law degree from the SIU School of Law in May 2022 and has bachelors degrees in criminal justice and psychology from Greenville University.

Stephens, who earned her bachelors degree in the program in May 2022, is from Schaumburg, Illinois, and is looking into going into the investigations area in law enforcement.

I think this will be a good tool and believe we will see attitudes change when we see the data, she said. It could be useful to helping people understand the realities of real-world situations.

Preliminary studies show change in attitudes

Giblin, Stephens and Barnhart presented preliminary findings from their research at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 18. The study examines student experiences with the VR simulation and its effects on attitudes toward the police. Students completed several tasks in a simulated shooting range, including hitting moving targets, and separately, quickly reacting to threatening individuals during pedestrian and traffic stop encounters.

The preliminary findings showed 75% or more of the student participants agreed or strongly agreed that the VR simulation was fun, educational, realistic, and a great training tool for police officers. Students also expressed interested in participating in the VR simulation again and wished that the roughly 15-minute demonstration lasted longer, Giblin said.

The preliminary results also showed students who participated in the VR had, on the whole, slightly more positive attitudes toward the police when compared to a randomly assigned group of students who completed the survey before participating in the VR simulation, according to Giblin. For example, VR participants were slightly more likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement, When police officers use force, including deadly force, they are typically responding to a threat, and, In general, most police officers are well-trained to perform their work.

Can also enhance recruiting

Giblin points to another benefit for the program recruiting. In addition to participating in a mock class and student panel discussion, potential students and their parents can be involved.

We can actually walk somebody to our VR lab and say, This is something we have here, and people are going to get to experience firsthand what it is like to be a police officer and encounter a certain situation, he said. These are the different things that you can do, and the families really seem to like to participate in that.

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SIU criminology program using virtual reality to better understand ... - SIU News



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