NPT’s ‘Next Door Neighbors: Belonging’ Premieres Tuesday, May 30

Belonging, the 10th documentary in NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series, premieres Tuesday, May 30, at 9:30 p.m. In this edition of Next Door Neighbors, we examine the lives of several Middle Tennesseans who grapple with what it means to belong, to be foreign-born and still fit in to American culture. How do experiences of acceptance and rejection shape our worldview and define our quality of life? From Syrian Americans living in Murfreesboro to a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient originally from Mexico, Belonging shares the experiences of immigrants in a world where rules and attitudes are constantly changing.

 

 

The first story is that of Mazen Alkhiyami, who came to Middle Tennessee four decades ago as a college student and has made his home here. “I am proud to be Syrian and Muslim and American at the same time,” Alkhiyami says in the documentary. “I woke up to this world in this country, I came here when I was 18. My kids are from here. I’m from here. I plan to be here for the rest my life.”

Syrian immigrant Abdou Kattih is founder and president of Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, a community service organization. He came to the U.S. to join his parents in Chattanooga, then moved to Middle Tennessee to work as a pharmacist. His story is among those told in the second segment of Belonging.

Beginning in 2011, the civil war in Syria led to a refugee crisis with civilians fleeing the fight between government forces, various rebel factions and ISIS fighters. By the end of 2016, there were nearly 5 million registered Syrian refugees, 18,000 of whom were resettled in the U.S., with fewer than 400 coming to Tennessee. “No Syrian is unaffected by this conflict, but I wanted to tell the story through a different lens,” said Belonging’s producer Shawn Anfinson.

Finally, Karla is a woman in her mid-20s who grew up much as any American child would. After being brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, she attended kindergarten in Nashville and went through the Metro Nashville public school system. Karla grew up with friends who were all Nashville-born. “They were all American; so I felt like I was one of them,” Karla says in Belonging. It was only when she began applying to colleges that she learned she was an undocumented immigrant. She now finds herself in a precarious situation despite 2012’s DACA policy.

NPT’s Next Door Neighbors: Belonging is made possible by the generous support of The Nissan Foundation.

Additional broadcast times for Next Door Neighbors: Belonging are below; the documentary will also be available for online viewing at ndn.wnpt.org/documentaries.

  • Thursday, June 1, at 9:30 a.m. on NPT2
  • Friday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. on NPT2

For our full programming schedule, please go to wnpt.org/schedule.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 8

Olivia Darnley as Wilma Goddens, Matthew Wilson as Trevor Goddens. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Many of us watching the Season 6 finale of Call the Midwife were not alive during a time when birth control was either unavailable, taboo or restricted to married women. These days advertisements for intrauterine systems appear in women’s and parenting magazines and Planned Parenthood is frequently mentioned in the press. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2014, more than 60 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 used some form of birth control. So it may be hard to appreciate what women like this episode’s Wilma Goddens (Olivia Darnley) felt when they received their first pack of oral contraceptive pills.

Birth control pills first became available in the United States in 1961, but only to married women. The first marketed birth control pill contained 75 micrograms of synthetic estrogen and 10 milligrams of synthetic progestin. Not long after the introduction of the pill, reports of women with venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke – conditions all related to blood clots – began to surface. Researchers and scientists came to realize that the hormones in birth control pills, particularly the estrogen, induced prothrombotic changes; that is, changes to clotting factors that can promote the formation of blood clots. Drug companies worked to create newer versions of birth control pills with lowered estrogen doses.

Currently women have an array of hormonal contraceptive options from which to choose. Pills with estrogen as low as 10 micrograms and several different types of progestins; pills without any estrogen; the patch; the shot; the ring; an implantable rod; and intrauterine devices with and without hormones are all available by prescription to women regardless of their marital status. These options allow women to work with their health care providers to try to match their unique needs to an effective form of birth control with the fewest possible side effects for them.

Despite advances in formulations and newer delivery systems, there are still side effects to hormonal birth control. The risks of blood clots for women using hormonal birth control remains higher at approximately 1 in 1,000 compared to women not on hormonal birth control at approximately 1 in 5,000. (It is also important to note that the risk of a blood clot during pregnancy is much higher than the risk of one from using hormonal birth control.) Women who are prescribed hormonal birth control should be counseled about the warning signs and symptoms of blood clots and should also be screened for smoking and hypertension, as this can also increase the risk of blood clots.

Women experiencing signs or symptoms should notify their health care provider. An easy way to remember what to look for is the acronym ACHES:

A: abdominal pain
C: chest pain
H: headaches
E: eye problems
S: severe leg pain

While we don’t live in an era where birth control pills are available over the counter (at least not in the United States) as Nurse Trixie (Helen George) first wished for, we are fortunate to have a variety of choices. As midwives, we strive to empower women to make educated decisions about their own bodies and health care. Sadly, this season of Call the Midwife showed us the consequences of unknown risk, whether with thalidomide prescribed to combat nausea or early-generation birth control pills. Season 6 also showed us hope, though, with new babies, new midwives and new relationships. The 1960s keep marching on in Poplar, and I’m only too happy to be along for the ride.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

Feast on These Shows About Food and Famous Chefs


We’re serving up a selection of delicious programming over the next few weeks, including new American Masters profiles of television chefs James Beard and Jacques Pépin, airing 8 p.m. Fridays, May 19 and 25. If these show whet your appetite, remember to sample our full buffet of cooking shows, Saturday afternoons on NPT and Wednesday evenings on NPT2. See our complete programming schedule at wnpt.org/schedule. Bon appetit!

Here’s the full menu of foodie shows:

Food – Delicious Science on Wednesdays, May 17 – 31, at 9 p.m.
Hosts Michael Mosley and James Wong travel the world to explore how chemistry, physics and biology determine how food tastes, why we hunger for certain foods and how we react to food. Dr. Mosely is a physician and a documentarian interested in dietary science, while Wong is a botanist whose passion for plants and their uses stems from his childhood in the jungles of Borneo.


The three-part Food – Delicious Science begins with “Food on the Brain” (May 17) about the energy required to run our brains and how this organ creates cravings for salt, caffeine, fat and other ingredients. Next is “A Matter of Taste” (May 25), which explores how we experience the five tastes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter and the less well-known “umami” flavors — and their effects on the tongue. In the final episode, “We Are What We Eat” (May 31), Wong and Mosely investigate how our bodies process food to keep us alive.

American Masters: James Beard on Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m.
“America’s First Foodie” profiles chef, cookbook author and journalist James Beard (1903-1985). Beard championed eating locally grown food and thinking about sustainable farming techniques long before those concepts were in vogue. He launched the first television cooking show in 1946 and his name is still associated with awards for food media and cooking.

American Masters: Julia Child on Friday, May 19, at 9 p.m.
An encore presentation ofJulia! America’s Favorite Chef” profiles cultural icon Julia Child (1912-2004) whose kitchen has been re-created in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Chef Paul Prudhomme: Louisiana Legend on Monday, May 22, at 11:30 p.m.
Specializing in Creole and Cajun cuisine, self-trained chef Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015) put Louisiana regional cooking on the menu. This program includes interviews with Prudhomme’s fellow chefs and looks back at his career as a cookbook author, restaurateur and television personality.


 

American Masters: Jacques Pépin on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m.
You might never associate French-born chef Jacques Pépin with Howard Johnson’s, but that oh-so American hotel chain is part of his American journey. Learn more about the popular cookbook author and television personality in “The Art of the Craft,” a new American Masters biography.

American Masters: Alice Waters on Friday, May 26, at 9 p.m.
Known for popularizing the local food movement from her famous Chez Panisse restaurant, Alice Waters was on the forefront of a culinary and social movement. “Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution,” an American Masters encore presentation, shows how Waters influenced the rise of local farmers’ markets and organic gardens.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 7

Liz White as Rhoda Mullucks with baby Susan. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Michelle Collins
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

If you are an avid Call the Midwife viewer, you will remember the young family from Season 5 whose child was affected by phocomelia. Phocomelia is a disorder that causes babies to be born with flipper- or stub-like projections in the place of arms and legs. The condition is very rare and can be inherited from the baby’s parents, though historically the most common cause has been maternal ingestion of the drug thalidomide.

After thalidomide became available in the mid-1950s under the brand name Immunoprin, women were advised to take it to ease nausea of pregnancy. Thousands of babies in Europe and the U.S. were born with thalidomide syndrome before the connection between the drug and the birth defect was discovered. About half of all babies born with phocomelia did not survive; those who did had major disabilities.

If there were a silver lining at all to thalidomide tragedy, it was that it led to much more rigorous drug testing in many countries. Prior to that, the appearance of any new drug on the market was unquestionably considered to be a good thing; rigorous pharmaceutical testing was not the norm. Thalidomide, for example, had never even been tested in pregnant animals to ascertain whether it had negative effects on fetuses, let alone used with caution in a small group of humans before being widely recommended during pregnancy.

Individuals with thalidomide-induced phocomelia may also have had deformities of their hearts and eyes (including blindness); gastrointestinal and urinary tract deformity; and deafness. Though physical capacity was affected, mental capacity was not. Just as the child in this episode was turned away from a day care because of the perceived inability for her to be integrated with the “normal” children, thalidomide children were frequently relegated to institutions to live out their lives, often to adulthood.

I wish that I could say that the thalidomide example of harm to the unborn due to inadequate testing prior to widespread recommendation was an isolated historical incident. Unfortunately, it is not. Take, for example, electronic fetal monitoring, a commonly used intervention in childbirth. Most people would assume that electronic fetal monitoring has done much to improve birth outcomes. In actuality, the one large effect has been an increase in cesarean sections, but without the accompanying benefit of improving the health of newborns. By the time sufficient studies on fetal monitoring were completed and it was demonstrated that its widespread use did not adequately predict poor fetal outcomes, it was too late to reel the practice back in.

There is not enough room in this post to discuss all of the birth interventions that do more harm than good, but I’ll leave you with a list of those things to do your homework on if you are expecting:

  • not being allowed to eat and being confined to bed during labor
  • giving birth on your back
  • pushing while holding your breath
  • episiotomy
  • accepting an elective induction of labor without medical reason to do so (this one in particular starts a cascade of interventions)

Knowledge is power!

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Concert, Documentaries and a Ken Burns Preview to Mark Memorial Day 2017

Maestro Jack Everly and the National Symphony during a National Memorial Day Concert on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn. Credit: Courtesy of Capital Concerts

NPT will air several programs in observance of Memorial Day, including the live broadcast of the annual National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C. The concert airs Sunday, May 28, at 7 p.m. and will be hosted by actors Laurence Fishburne and Joe Mantegna. This year’s line-up includes retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell; four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renée Fleming; multi-platinum recording artist and entertainer Vanessa Williams; country music superstar Scotty McCreery; Christopher Jackson (Hamilton, Bull); Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty, Devious Maids); the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly and others.

The following programs will also air this month:

The Last Ring Home on Monday, May 15, at 11:30 p.m.
Lt. Minter Dial’s grandson and namesake spent years unraveling the mystery of Dial’s 1932 Annapolis Naval Academy ring.  The treasured keepsake miraculously made its way home 17 years after Lt. Dial was killed as a POW of the Japanese in WWII.

Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson on Tuesday, May 16, at 11 p.m.
This documentary tells the story of Myron “Pinky” Thompson, a leader in the Native Hawaiian community and veteran of the Normandy invasion in World War II. The film is part of the Pacific Heartbeat series airing Tuesdays through May 30.

Above and Beyond on Thursday, May 18, at 11 p.m.
Former Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun (1920-2011) was involved in one of the most compelling escapes of World War II after his B-17 bomber, Damn Yankee, crashed during a combat mission. This left Sundlun, a Jewish-American, and his crew in the heart of Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. His daughter, Kara, retraces his wartime journey.

Canine Soldiers: The Militarization of Love on Thursday, May 25, at 11 p.m.
In wars where the rules of engagement have shifted from traditional combat to the unforeseen and the invisible, highly trained Military Working Dogs are saving soldiers’ lives and giving them comfort, hope and protection. An intimate bond forms between the animals and their handlers – combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols.

PBS Previews: The Vietnam War, Sunday, May 28, at 8:30 p.m.
A sneak peek at Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War series coming to PBS this September. The program includes interviews with the filmmakers, behind-the-scenes footage, and exclusive clips from the series.

Farmer/Veteran on Independent Lens, Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m.
After three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton finds a salve for the PTSD he developed through farming. This film by Alix Blair, Jeremy M. Lange, and D.L. Anderson shows Sutton working through lingering trauma while rebuilding his life on 43 acres in rural North Carolina.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 6

Jennifer Kirby as Valerie Dyer, Yusra Warsama as Nadifa. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

This week’s Call the Midwife episode included the threat of nuclear war, electroshock therapy and female genital mutilation. It was enough to make me reach for the drink dentist Christopher (Jack Hawkins) offered to Trixie (Helen George) near the end of the episode. All joking aside, the issues raised in this episode remain pertinent and serious, particularly that of female genital mutilation.

This practice may also be referred to as cutting or circumcision and, as noted in the episode, it has been around for centuries. Practitioners of FGM often believe this will prepare the girl, typically between the ages of infancy and 15 years old, for adulthood and marriage; ensure premarital virginity; increase marriageability; and uphold tradition. FGM is also thought by some to be necessary for cleanliness, modesty and femininity.

There are currently approximately 200 million women and girls who have been cut, in 30 countries. FGM is most common in parts of Africa and in some areas in the Middle East and Asia. Immigrants from parts of the world where FGM is performed have carried the practice to other countries. There is no religious doctrine that supports FGM, although religious leaders within a community may promote it.

The shock Nurse Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) experienced upon witnessing the physical and emotional trauma of the mother (Yusra Warsama) in this episode is understandable, as well as her confusion about the mother’s willingness to subject her sister to the same procedure. FGM can be deeply culturally rooted, and the elimination of it depends more upon the decision of the community itself than legal ramifications. A number of international organizations continue to work to raise awareness, support women who have been subjected to FGM and provide evidence-based guidelines to healthcare providers caring for affected women.

I wanted so badly to reach out and grab the children’s anatomy book Nurse Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie) was carrying, open it up and teach the mother about her own body so she might be empowered and understand why FGM was not necessary for any medical reason, and in fact poses a very real risk to women’s health.

Since 1997, the World Health Organization has called for an end to FGM, recognizing it as a violation of human rights. The United Nations has also adopted a resolution to eliminate the practice. As recently as last month, a Michigan grand jury indicted three people (two of whom were doctors) for conducting the practice. While FGM has been illegal in the US since 1996, this was the first indictment handed down.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

Familiar Faces Join ‘Tennessee Crossroads’ Team This Spring

Two familiar faces are joining the Tennessee Crossroads team this spring! Danielle Colburn Allen and Janet Ivey each have long associations with Nashville Public Television and will bring their unique qualities to the weekly magazine show. Look for Danielle and Janet on Crossroads Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m.

 

Danielle Colburn Allen at Big Al’s Deli in Nashville, February 2017.

Memphis native Danielle Colburn Allen applied for a job at NPT right after college at MTSU, where she majored in journalism. Though she wasn’t hired then, she was asked to audition for a role in our pledge broadcasts. Eight years later, Danielle is still taking part in NPT’s pledge drives and also hosted Becoming American, a 2016 documentary in NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series.

“I’ve always been passionate about public television because I love history and documentaries,” Danielle said after completing her first Crossroads story. “Now that I’m a mother, I’m appreciative of it even more because of the children’s programming.”

Like other Tennessee Crossroads fans, Danielle enjoys the armchair travel experiences offered by the show. Her first story took her to Big Al’s Deli in Nashville. “It did not feel like work at all; it felt like we stopped by to see an old friend and we just happened to have cameras with us,” Danielle said. She also said the food in the scene wasn’t a prop and that she finished her meal while the crew packed up from the shoot. Food and history are Danielle’s two big passions and she is looking forward to finding stories to help people branch out and learn more about their community.

Janet Ivey


Janet Ivey
is the other familiar new face soon to make her Tennessee Crossroads debut. Her Janet’s Planet children’s science series launched on NPT more than a decade ago and has won 12 regional Emmys and five Gracie Allen Awards. The show airs on more than 140 public television stations. But Janet’s explorations aren’t confined to children’s science adventures, the Covington, Tenn.-native and Belmont University alumna was also co-host of Tennessee’s Wild Side for 15 years. After several years of correcting people who confused that show with Crossroads, she finally gave up and simply thanked them for watching.

Joining Crossroads is also a return to her earliest NPT connections: Years ago longtime NPT producer Ken Simington, who died last summer, taught her the basics of creating a story while working on local segments for WGBH’s Zoom children’s series. “Throughout my years of coming in for pledge drives or doing Janet’s Planet or Arts Break or any number of things I volunteer to do, Ken was one of those happy people,” Janet said. “The thrill for me to be on Tennessee Crossroads will be to carry on that legacy of Ken Simington, my good friend.”

While Janet is still determining what kinds of stories she’ll pursue for Crossroads and her early story ideas lean toward science, the arts and kids. She is also drawn to the kind of quirky, out-of-the-ordinary stories Crossroads specializes in. “Stuff like, well, I never knew that, Mable,” Janet said, laughing.

Victorian Treats Premiere on NPT This Week


The Victorian era was a time of extraordinary breakthroughs, particularly in engineering, science and literature. Beginning this week, NPT will air two series that explore this fascinating era: Victorian Slum House, a living history experience, begins Tuesday, May 2; while Dickens’ characters intermingle in new plotlines in Dickensian, starting Thursday, May 4.

 

East Enders
The latest entry in the genre of PBS programs in which modern people attempt to re-create the experiences of earlier generations is Victorian Slum House, airing 7 p.m. Tuesdays, May 2 through 30. Who in their right mind would volunteer for this? As is often the case, some participants are curious about how their ancestors lived, while others want to find out what life would have been like for someone in their situation. Each episode of Victorian Slum House simulates a decade of Queen Victoria’s reign, beginning with the 1860s. In the premiere, we meet the initial cast and learn about day-to-day existence in London’s famously rough East End.

The cast allows the series to consider the lives of a cross-section of the Victorian poor, including a single mother of two, a senior citizen trying to provide for his multigenerational family, and an amputee adjusting to a prosthetic leg. The participants learn how precarious life was in a society that made few, if any, provisions for the injured, sick or old; and how social and legal restrictions on women’s opportunities and an absence of regulations regarding living conditions made it even harder for people to overcome poverty. Over the remaining episodes the participants contend with industrialization; labor competition and economic downturns. Finally, in the later episodes, social reforms begin to offer hope and opportunity to the Victorian Slum House residents as they did for the Victorian poor.

 

 

What the Dickens?
Charles Dickens looms large among Victorian writers; indeed many of our ideas about what that time was like come through his characters and stories. What’s not to like, then, about Dickensian, a clever mashup featuring some of the most familiar characters in Victorian literature? The plot begins with the Christmas Eve murder of a truly despicable Jacob Marley – is he really the sort of soul who would come back to warn his former partner? Decide for yourself as Inspector Bucket works his way through the puzzle with a supporting cast that includes Amelia and Arthur Havisham, the Cratchits, Little Nell, Fagin and Dodger. The series airs at 8 and 9 p.m. Thursdays, May 4 through June 1.

 

No collection of Victorian treats would be complete without Victoria on Masterpiece, the series that explores the transformation of the legendary monarch from sheltered princess into feisty young queen. The series premiered on NPT this past winter and is now available on NPT Passport, the member benefit streaming portal. Learn more about the Passport membership benefit here.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 5

Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie), Nurse Trixie Franklin (Helen George), Nurse Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell)

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Michelle Collins
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

One of my favorite things about Call the Midwife is the voice-overs from Call the Midwife memoirist Jennifer Worth at the beginning and end of each episode, delivered as only Vanessa Redgrave can. As Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby), prepares to assume her duties as the newest Nonnatus House midwife in this episode, her mother beams with pride as she makes last-minute adjustments to her daughter’s uniform.

Over this opening scene we hear Worth’s words: “Bringing up children is not simple. From the moment the midwife cuts the cord, a mother’s task is to nurture and cherish, to shelter and protect. Even as she does so she must teach the child to leave her; train it at first to let go of her hand to walk unaided and then to walk away. But there is a cord that nothing can sever; the invisible bond that ties the mother to the infant which endures when the child is a child no more.”

Attending births as a midwife is a privilege – there’s absolutely no question about that. Witnessing the entrance of new life is an honor beyond measure. But what is equally joyful is being present for the birth of mothers, because at every birth a mother is also born. I am constantly amazed and transfixed watching women labor and give birth, many of whom have never dreamed that every strength they could need in childbirth would be found deep inside them at the precise moment it is needed.

Physiologic processes ensue during childbirth that help “make” mothers and further the bond of mother to child – like the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin that literally facilitate the process of attachment between the two. Becoming a mother, however, is not simply a matter of physiology. Consider the adoptive mother who, just as a woman who has given birth, becomes a mother when her child is lain in her arms for the first time.

By the end of this episode, Fred and Violet Buckle (portrayed by Cliff Parisi and Annabelle Apsion), have become surrogate parents to Fred’s nephew, Reggie (Daniel Laurie), who has Down syndrome. As they reluctantly leave him to explore his newfound independence, we again hear the poignant words of midwife Jenny: “And so we let go of their hands but not their hearts; of the need to be needed but not the need to love. And however much it hurts, there is joy in that moment because of the unseen cord that binds us which will never break.”

Whether you are a mamma who has had your heartstrings tugged as you dropped off your baby at daycare on the first day or even tried to hold back a flood of emotions as you drove away from your college freshman for the first time – we all know exactly the significance of the “unseen cord” that midwife Jenny speaks of. Happy early Mother’s Day to all mothers everywhere! And to all of those mothers who have allowed me the privilege of witnessing their own “births into motherhood,” I thank you for inspiring me with your strength and amazing me with your grace as you transitioned from woman to mother.

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

‘Swim Team’ Named 2017 NPT Human Spirit Award Winner at NaFF


NPT’s Human Spirit Award is presented each year to a Nashville Film Festival documentary selection and acknowledges a filmmaker’s work that best explores and captures the human spirit. The film must illuminate in a high artistic manner the important characteristics of what it means to be human: generosity, kindness, mercy, compassion, fortitude and honor. This year’s award went to Swim Team and was presented to director Lara Stolman and producer Shanna Belott on Sunday, April 23, during the 48th NaFF at the Regal Hollywood Stadium 27.

Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of three diverse young athletes on the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swim team for teens on the autism spectrum. The kids are trained with high expectations and zero pity and Swim Team captures their moving quest for inclusion, independence and a sense of winning.  Swim Team will air on an upcoming season of POV, PBS’s series of independent documentaries.

Swim Team’s Shanna Belott and Lara Stolman at the 2017 Nashville Film Festival

The NPT Human Spirit Award jury consisted of Kevin Crane, vice president of programming and technology; Justin Harvey, director of content; Sheila Fischer, director of development; Linda Wei, director of digital strategies; and Jessica Turk, assistant program manager.