UK Team Selected by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Address Children's Health Challenges in Casey County


By Jenny Wells-Hosley

A team from the University of Kentucky has been selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Clinical Scholars leadership program to address children's health and education in Appalachia.

The UK team of five, which includes a dentist, dietitian, two nurse practitioners and a clinical psychologist, will receive $525,000 for their project "Coordinating Activities to Support Empowerment of Youth (CASEY) Health." The group is focusing on addressing a "wicked problem" in Appalachia by designing and evaluating a health education curriculum for elementary school children in Casey County, Kentucky.

UK's RWJF Clinical Scholars team includes:

This diverse team of clinicians will develop and coordinate a program that empowers children, 8-12 years old, by communicating evidenced-based science, in an interactive format, to make healthy decisions. With the involvement of school officials, community members, education experts and local stakeholders, the team’s goal is to develop a freely available, 10-lesson curriculum that targets healthy decision-making, meets Kentucky Academic Standards and is used statewide.

The curriculum will cover five elements of health, including:

  • preventing illness/injuries and risky behaviors;
  • emphasizing the importance of oral health;
  • abstaining from all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes);
  • eating healthy/nutritious foods; and
  • emphasizing the importance of physical activity.

"Our efforts are expected to yield improvements in health beliefs, knowledge and behaviors at the end of the project and for years to come," the team said.

The RWJF leadership programs connect leaders across the country — from every profession and field — to learn from and work with one another in creating more just and thriving communities. To learn more about Clinical Scholars and RWJF’s other leadership programs, visit

The gift furthers the goals of Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. By enabling this team to educate students in Casey County, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is helping to heal communities throughout the Commonwealth, expand research and ensure UK remains the University for Kentucky.

This story originally appeared October 2, 2019 in UKNOW

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