PADUCAH, Ky. — The second annual Regional Wellness Summit took place on March 7 at the Murray State University Paducah campus. The summit was a free event for teachers, school nurses, school administrators, health departments and community health educators that provided professional development and continuing education units.
The purpose of the event was to assist school districts and their community health coalitions to work together to create or strengthen their wellness policies as part of the coordinated school health program.
“Coordinated School Health programs require community involvement, which is an excellent opportunity for schools to collaborate with their local health coalitions. We wanted to provide a platform to get the discussion started as well as provide resources and networking opportunities for the schools to create their school health advisory committees,” said Dr. Miranda Terry, assistant professor and director of public and community health, department of applied health sciences at Murray State, who serves on the board of directors for the Purchase Area Health Connections and chaired the committee.
Keynote speakers included Jamie Sparks, Kentucky coordinated school health director for the Kentucky Department of Education, and MeMe Perdue, Kentucky state coordinator for Action for Healthy Kids. Sparks led a working group session on coordinated school health. Nancy Gibson, assistant superintendent of district relations at Henderson County Schools, presented in this session about how to successfully implement the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) program into each school, using her school as an example. Perdue led a working group session on the School Health Index, using that information to create action plans to continuously improve the health outcomes of each school, and how to use that information for grant opportunities.
The summit was made possible by the generous donations of Passport Health Plans, WellCare Health Plans, Action for Healthy Kids and Purchase District Health Department. Funding from these sponsors also provided opportunities for participating schools to receive mini-grants to create active classrooms and offset substitute teacher coverage costs for participating school districts.
“We received extremely positive feedback from the participants. We had around 90 attendees from all over the western side of Kentucky and even as far away as Cumberland, Ky. We will begin planning next year’s event soon as it is apparent there is a great deal of need and interest,” said Terry. “We also want to thank the Murray State Paducah campus staff for going above and beyond. Their assistance was very much appreciated. It is a beautiful campus and we were lucky to be able to host the event there. We also want to thank our sponsors as without them, we would not have been able to make this event happen. We hope we are able to continue to get this level of support for next year’s event.”