Loyola gets grant for Play Therapy Center

The Loyola University Play Therapy Center of Education and Research has received a grant from the Heebe Family Fund at Touro Infirmary.

The gift will help to provide training for health care professionals, especially mental health counselors focused on families struggling with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The center, founded in 2008, is the third play therapy center in the U.S. to be officially recognized and one of fewer than 20 such centers in the nation.

Play therapy is a form of mental health counseling or psychotherapy by which mental health professionals incorporate the use of play to better communicate with clients and help them achieve better mental health.

National Play Therapy Week, which runs through Saturday, is designed to raise awareness of the method’s role in helping families. Loyola will host the Louisiana Association of Play Therapy’s annual conference Feb. 26-27.

The conference will center on trauma-informed play therapy and include a day of professional workshops.

The Heebe Family Fund was established in honor of Mimi and Odom Heebe Jr. and their children to make life better for families facing cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Mimi Heebe died in 2015 from breast cancer.

TU’s Cowen Institute issues new reports

The Cowen Institute at Tulane University released two reports analyzing New Orleans high school student test scores and completion rates for federal financial aid for college, Tulane announced last week.

Both are indicators critical to the long-term success of city students. The reports are part of the Cowen Institute’s efforts to support college and career readiness and success for all of the city’s youth.

One report tracks Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rates at high schools across the city. It also details why applying for federal aid improves college attainment for high school seniors.

The report is accompanied by a website that includes weekly updates on FAFSA completion rates for each high school in New Orleans and resources for parents, students and counselors about the financial aid process.

The second report, “The Snapshot: A Brief Analysis of High School Performance Scores,” offers an overview of how high schools locally and statewide fared on the state’s accountability system last year.

The report finds that the number of A-rated schools statewide more than doubled last year, due in large part to increased Progress Points and improvement in all four components of the grading scale.

UNO professor gets grant to study marsh

A University of New Orleans professor has received a two-year, $88,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to examine the resilience of marshes.

Ioannis Georgiou, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, is studying how marshes respond to climate change. He’s also examining their future sustainability in light of continued sea level rise.

Georgiou and collaborators from Boston University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences spent 10 days in Plum Island Sound, an estuary in northeastern Massachusetts, collecting information on currents, tides and sediment concentrations. They will use the data to set up models that will be used to simulate the future of these systems in the next 200 years.

According to Georgiou, marshes need at least some mineral sediment to produce organic sediment and keep pace with rising sea levels. “Quantifying the sediment in the system and understanding the processes contributing to sediment deposition are key and could determine the fate of marshes in coastal systems worldwide,” he said.

The research is funded through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, which supports projects that reduce communities’ vulnerability to the growing risks of coastal storms, sea level rise, flooding, erosion and associated threats.