The Kickoff of Our 2022 Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar Series Was a Success!

In the first installment of our 2022 Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar Series, titled Social Connectedness: Creating Clarity on Key Concepts, our Founder & CEO, Dr. Danielle Varda, along with Dr. Rose Y. Hardy, our Network Data Scientist, provided answers and insight into some foundational and growing questions: What is social connectedness, and what is adverse social connectedness? How does it impact one’s health, and the health of their communities? How do we make these connections more visible in order to help those in need?

Social Connectedness can be defined as the experience of belonging to a social relationship or network. Dr. Varda and Dr. Hardy began the webinar by detailing their professional pathways that have led them to work in the social connectedness and network science fields, sharing personal experiences and stories that have inspired and motivated them to pursue work in these areas.

Adverse social connectedness whether real or perceived, can be defined by a lack of strong connections between friends, family, and others in an individual’s life can lead to serious consequences for the individual and possibly those around them. This is an important issue that has become top of mind for many as the pandemic ebbs and flows, especially in regards to both young people and older adults.

Our Mission: Real Stories

Dr. Rose Y. Hardy, Network Data Scientist

Dr. Hardy grew up in Missoula, Montana, and saw first hand some of the joys and challenges that rural communities encounter when seeking health care through the lens of her father, a pediatric cardiologist, and later through her own work and studies. Folks living in areas like Western Montana can be hundreds of miles away from traditional support and care, making their personal networks and connections all the more important.

Dr. Hardy has experienced the importance of social connectedness throughout her life. While pursuing her Master’s in Public Health, her PhD in Health Services Research, and performing her postdoctoral work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she had to relocate frequently. While just a move to some, Dr. Hardy shared that as someone with epilepsy, it isn’t as simple as packing up and hoping to meet new friends. 

Of course, new connections and communities had to be made with health care and medication providers. But in addition, the possibility of a health emergency such as a seizure all but required Dr. Hardy to share personal health information, and what to do in an emergency event with those in her day-to-day life like co-workers and neighbors. When Dr. Hardy joined VNL and used the PARTNER platform, it was the first time she was able to visualize her support network. 

Dr. Danielle Varda, Founder & CEO

Dr. Varda was open and vulnerable with the audience as well. She shared a story about her mother, who was suffering from breast cancer, and how witnessing an exchange between her mother and her mother’s oncologist demonstrated that basic, surface level questions about a person’s social connectedness can fall short of accurately depicting the connections that the person receiving care has in their life. 

Dr. Varda has been studying the areas around social connectedness for close to 20 years. After becoming a network scientist, she joined the RAND Corporation as a policy scientist, later becoming a tenured professor at the University of Colorado Denver. It is there she started the Center for Network Science, leading her to build out our PARTNER platform, and eventually become the founder of Visible Network Labs.

Interacting With Our Audience

During our webinars, we like to get our audience involved and hear what they have to add to our discussions. Dr. Varda posed two questions, and those who responded were able to do so through Mentimeter, an online interactive platform. Check out these questions and the answers that attendees provided below!

Our Upcoming Webinars

Throughout 2022, we will be holding monthly live, free webinars and each month we will address a different facet of social connectedness. Please join us on February 23rd, 2022 at 12pm MST as we host the next installment of our Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar series, entitled Strengthening Social Connectedness Among Older Adults.

We will focus around causes of social isolation and loneliness, and share new solutions to improve connections between the older members of our communities. Also, save the date for March 30th, 2022 at 12pm MST as we will hold our Social Connectedness and Young People webinar.

Sign Up Below!

We hope you will join us throughout 2022! Click HERE to get more information about our Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar Series! You will find ways to sign up to receive updates, how to get involved, dates, and topics. 

Be sure to stay tuned to our Visible Us Blog for more product updates and VNL Team content!

About the Author: Will Jacobson

Will Jacobson is the Business Development Specialist on VNL’s Marketing and Communications Team. Originally from New York City, Will loves living in Colorado and all the outdoor life it has to offer. He’s also a pretty big foodie!

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