Highlands Pilots Youth Health Ambassador Program with UK Markey Cancer Center

July 24, 2018
Prestonsburg, Ky.— In their mission to develop a healthier community, Highlands Health System and UK Markey Cancer Center have teamed up to create a new program that showcases the knowledge and determination of area high school students. The Youth Health Ambassador Program, currently piloted with students from Johnson Central and Prestonsburg high schools, trains students to educate their younger peers on proper health and wellness.  
Students are trained to present Markey’s Get Fit, Be Smart, Don’t Start program to younger students in elementary and middle school classrooms. The program teaches children to adopt healthy habits, such as eating well, maintaining healthy fitness levels, and staying up to date on screenings. It also teaches abstaining from habits that can have a lasting effect on their lives, such as smoking, vaping, texting and driving, or even succumbing to peer pressure.
“We’re providing the Ambassadors with everything they need, from on-site training to visual aids, to allow them to advocate for positive change. The students who were chosen are exceptional and all are interested in healthcare careers already” said Danielle Franklin, Highlands’ Community Development Director.
After an application, interview and training process, six local students were chosen as ambassadors for the program. Allison Campbell and Alexia Hall are from Prestonsburg High School, and Alexis Click, Trey Layne, Jaxon Ratliff and Sarah Thompson will represent Johnson Central. Along with an excellent experience for their college applications and resumes, Youth Health Ambassadors will improve their skills in communication and health education, and will receive a monetary scholarship at the end of their senior year.

Melissa Hounshell, Markey’s Community Outreach Director, hopes the program can expand to include additional students from other area schools in the coming years. “We are so excited to pilot this program in Eastern Kentucky, where we have such great partnerships with local school systems and teachers already. Within the next couple years, the program could expand to include students at Markey’s affiliate sites across the state.”