On November 29th, Lexington High School held their first YouRhealth community health fair. YouRhealth is just one of the ways that UNL Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI) is building long-term relationships with rural communities. With Rural Futures Institute (RFI) support, we are working with the high school to develop a health course curriculum that equips students to be viable public health educators. The YouRhealth students learn all the skills necessary to create research-based public health campaigns. The Lexington Clipper article does a great job of representing the work from our pilot project of 18 students.
Civic engagement is at the core of the YouRhealth curriculum. Several MHDI affiliated faculty engaged the students in the classroom, in addition to a wide range of community guest speakers. Over 20 University of Nebraska students engaged the pilot project in a variety of roles. On the ground level, several MHDI/REACH lab student workers provided curriculum development and graphic design support. Two UNMC – Lincoln public health nursing undergraduates completed a class project that surveyed YouRhealth student health knowledge. From the survey results, they recommended additional lesson plans, as well as provided YouRhealth students feedback on their video public service announcements. Art education student teachers from University of Nebraska – Kearney taught the YouRhealth class about visual literacy and the principles of creating good public health campaigns. An entire crew of UNMC – Kearney seniors in the nursing program provided free health screenings to all the participants at the community health fair. The YouRhealth students worked elbow to elbow with university students to take this pilot project to the next level.
The future of YouRhealth is bright. Next semester, we are rolling out the curriculum to all five health courses. YouRhealth is only possible because of the commitment of the Lexington community. We owe all the success to the YouRhealth pilot project students, the Lexington High School teachers/staff, Lexington Regional Health Center, and all of the 20 community vendors who showed up to educate the student community health fair participants. We are now working with more university partners to develop related afterschool programming in the middle and elementary schools in Lexington, as well as to offer the YouRhealth curriculum across Nebraska. You will be hearing more from us as our partnerships solidify and our student body of public health educators grows!