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Movement Mentors Celebrate Year

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

The goal? To get young area students moving.

The outcome? It could not be termed anything but a rousing success.

For a full academic year, the Active Women’s Health Initiative’s Movement Mentors group has been encouraging area youth to get up and become more active. A volunteer program housed within the College of Health Sciences, Movement Mentors brings students, staff and faculty together around a shared goal of improving physical and health among youth in the community.

Last week, the group was able to come together to recall the best times of the year.

“We have a pandemic — a pandemic of inactivity,” said Dee Dlugonski, PhD, an assistant professor for Athletic Training at the Sports Medicine Research Institute who oversees the Mentors.

It turns out those who volunteered had a pretty good time making sure this pandemic comes to an end. During the presentation, Dlugonski, along with Tasia Chapman, a Clinical Leadership and Management major, explained the highlights of a successful year.

Chapman said the group wanted to close the gap in physical activity participation between girls and boys, while encouraging all youth to be active. She then provided some snapshots of just what they were able to accomplish, including having:

  • Over 103 volunteer hours completed (and counting)
  • Over 30 opportunities for volunteer hours
  • Reached 250 youth
  • Trained 20 mentors
  • 18 mentors completing at least one volunteer event
  • 6 academic programs represented
  • Both graduate and undergraduate student participation

Volunteer opportunities occurred across the entire 2021-2022 academic year in partnership with Lexington’s Lansdowne Elementary and Rise STEM Academy, two local elementary schools that have diverse student populations that are at-risk for poor health outcomes. 

And with support from a grant from the College of Health Sciences’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program, as well as a Move Together grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athleta, the group was able to fund stipends for two student leaders, promote speakers on health disparities and provide supplies to facilitate health-based programming.

“We are so excited to bring together individuals from across the College of Health Sciences and the University to serve as Movement Mentors,” Dlugonski said. “We hope that these shared volunteer experiences will help mentors develop a stronger connection to each other, our College and the University.”

Chapman, who also serves as a resident advisor, as well as a graphic designer for UK’s Black Student Union and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., said she really enjoyed the experience.

“I was interested to see young people being so active,” she said. “It made me feel nostalgic, care-free, like when I was in elementary school.”

As Chapman explained, the group features both undergraduate and graduate mentors, from various colleges across the UK campus.

“I hadn’t stepped into an elementary school for a long while,” said Kelsey West, an undergraduate from the College of Public Health. “And this was a wake-up call to me to practice what I preached. I wanted to be that positive influence.”

Rachel Kleis, a graduate student in the Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD program, said that even just communicating to the children was empowering.

“I love the way we talk to young girls about physical activity, using words like ‘strong’ and ‘powerful,’” she said. “We can all be strong and powerful. I really liked that part.”


PARTICIPANTS:

Tasia Chapman, Leader of Administration and Programming
Macy Nigh, Co-Leader

Active Women’s Health Initiative Leadership Team

Dr. Mary Lloyd Ireland
Dr. Hanna Hoch

CHS Collaborators

Dr. Jean Fry
Dr. Nick Heebner
Dr. Sarah Kerscmar
Dr. Casey Shadix
Ms. Cheryl Vanderford, MPAS, PA-C

Supported by grants from the CHS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program, as well as the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athleta.

 

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