UK is ‘Centering and Celebrating Cultures in Health’ during National Public Health Week, which runs through Sunday

By Grace Colville
University of Kentucky

From fostering collaborations to increase lifesaving cancer screenings, to examining the impact of an environmental disaster, to shedding light on vaccine hesitancy in Eastern Kentucky, experts in public health are all around us, seeking ways to improve and health and well-being of the population.

April 3 marks the beginning of the annual National Public Health Week, a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. This week, organizations across the country — including the University of Kentucky College of Public Health — are hosting events to promote public health’s passion, purpose and pathway for a healthier life.

Each year, a different theme is chosen to recognize and celebrate public health in a different capacity. This year, the theme is “Centering and Celebrating Cultures in Health.” The goal of this theme is to celebrate how we learn from the communities we are born in and the ones we build together.

“This year’s theme means inclusiveness and coming together,” said Acting College of Public Health Dean Heather Bush. “We feel strongly that community is a big part of what we do in public health and we see essential value in hearing from communities.”

“Everyone belongs here,” said Jonathan Gent, chief of staff at the college and organizer of UK’s National Public Health Week events. “Inclusive excellence is only possible with diversity of thought and creating a welcoming atmosphere — for everyone. We aim to be a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, in line with our vision to be the catalyst of positive change for population health for all.”

The UK College of Public Health has been celebrating National Public Health Week for nearly 20 years. Its mission of developing health champions, conducting multidisciplinary and applied research and collaborating with partners to improve health in Kentucky and beyond is furthered by awareness of the field and support of its patrons.

“National Public Health Week is about celebrating our public health heroes and champions. It’s about taking time to say thank you,” said Bush. “Communities matter and what happens in our communities is important. We are all part of coming together for a solution. We recognize that groups of people are different and what makes them different is beautiful. We want to celebrate and recognize those differences, and use that for our understanding in what makes public health great.”

This week, UK has multiple events open to all students, faculty, staff and community members. These virtual and in-person events will allow attendees to explore the role of strong communities on physical and mental health. The events include:

Tuesday, April 4: Music Bingo | 3:30-5:30 p.m. College of Public Health, Room 115
Music bingo is very popular for relaxation and mental health. It’s just like regular bingo, but instead of shouting out numbers, songs are played. Each round takes on a different genre of song choices; these could be based on either a decade, theme or just a random quirky topic (for example, movie theme tunes or Disney songs). Prizes are available for winners. Facilitated by the Office of Student Engagement and Academic Success (SEAS) within the College of Public Health.
April 4: Mennonite Population of Kentucky and Celebrating Care | 2-3 p.m., Virtual (Zoom Link)
Facilitated by Jenn Harris, director of the Todd County Health Department, and M. Susan Jones, professor emerita, School of Nursing, Institute for Rural Health at Western Kentucky University. Kentucky’s Mennonite populations is listed as the eighth largest in North America, one of the fastest growing in the past 20 years. What is it like to work with such a unique culture within our own borders? What can health care students learn from this population? How can we celebrate the care given to this population?Wednesday, April 5: Yoga Therapy | 3-4 p.m. Wethington Commons, Room 127
Enjoy this therapeutic experience, which empowers individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga. No experience? No problem! Bring your mat and move at your own pace for a stress-busting round of yoga.
Facilitated by UK Campus Recreation and Wellness.

Thursday, April 6: Express Your Culture Through Art | 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. CPH Room 120
Using the materials provided, express how your culture has shaped your health. Think about the foods you eat, the traditions you have with your family and friends or your community, the activities and hobbies you engage in, or how you unwind and decompress.

April 6: Move Your Body Today | 11 a.m.-noon, Bradley Bowman Quad
Stop by for a fun, body-weight workout that you can do anywhere. Also, learn ways to engage and motivate others into daily physical activity. Facilitated by Ketrell McWhorter, assistant professor, UK College of Public Health, American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer.
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