Winston Churchill famously said that “courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” At the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, we believe that it will take courage from concerned citizens, local leaders and elected officials to achieve our mission of addressing the unmet health-care needs of Kentuckians. And we believe that before we can “stand up and speak,” we first need to listen to the views of the people around us.
Recently, foundation representatives traveled around the commonwealth, asking the public what we should do next to advance our mission. This listening tour became the cornerstone of our new strategic plan and will shape our work for the next five years. Overwhelmingly, people across the state told us we needed to work with kids. Regardless of whether they had young children or grandchildren, Kentuckians viewed the health of the next generation as the highest priority.
We listened. And now we are launching a new strategic initiative at the Foundation called “Investing in Kentucky’s Future.” A request for proposals (RFP) has been issued. Communities interested in being considered for this work have until Friday, Nov. 16, to submit a letter of intent. The complete Investing in Kentucky’s Future RFP, along with a list of frequently asked questions, is available online at the foundation’s website. The address is: http://www.healthy-ky.org.
In the coming years, we will dedicate significant resources to help Kentucky communities adopt innovative strategies to keep kids healthy, to share skills and build capacity in local coalitions to address health risks, and to inform local leaders about policies that impact the health of children. This place-based initiative engages communities in developing a shared understanding of factors that place their school-age children at future risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and substance abuse as these young people move into adulthood.
Troublingly, chronic diseases occur at higher rates in Kentucky than in surrounding states. By starting early and modifying policy and physical environments, the communities funded by this initiative should see increases in school participation, reductions in risk behaviors and improved health status over the five years of the initiative. But we’re not through listening.
Children are influenced by their schools, their communities, their peers, and most importantly — their parents. If you want to understand children’s needs, you need to consider these diverse influences.
If you want to improve children’s health, you need to listen to the real experts: moms and dads. The Kentucky Parent Survey was an effort to “sit down and listen” to what moms and dads had to say.
This year, more than 1,000 parents and guardians of children under 18 were interviewed by telephone as part of the first-ever Kentucky Parent Survey, which was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
The Kentucky Parent Survey assessed the views of parents, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents and other legal guardians about health issues that impact children in our state. The interviews were conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia, where researchers carefully reviewed the data to ensure that it was an accurate reflection of the views of all Kentuckians.