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Community Health Workers make connections across Kentucky

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are front-line workers that serve as the bridge between our communities and the healthcare system. CHWs work across our state to achieve their role as connectors. With the goal of increasing the capacity of CHWs to support Kentuckians with disabilities, the Human Development Institute (HDI) has partnered with the Kentucky Office of Community Health Workers (KOCHW) to provide a series of trainings and interactive workshops on Universal Design (UD).*

 The statewide trainings were the result of lessons learned from previously hosted listening sessions. Insight from CHWs helped identify areas of need and allowed HDI to develop CHW-focused training on various disability and health topics. Training includes Disability 101, Disability and Health Resources, UD in Community Health Work, and Guardianship and Supported Decision-Making. HDI created the regional workshops to reinforce the inclusive principles of UD and empower CHWs to implement their learned inclusion strategies.

The workshops are hosted with KYOCHW’s regional meetings and engage CHWs to apply UD strategies to health messages, programming, and environments. The universally designed workshops feature numerous interactive activities focused on engaging participants to apply strategies to maximize accessibility and inclusion.

Workshop activities include:  

  • Jeopardy: Review content from previous trainings with a trivia styled game.
  • Role-play: Use supported decision-making to act out different community scenarios.
  • UD Redesign: Small groups work together to apply UD strategies to provide examples of inaccessible materials.
  • Social Media: After learning about the importance of UD and accessibility on social media, write alt text and image descriptions.
  • Adapted Physical Activity: Identify ways to modify exercises to be inclusive of the different ways people move their bodies.
  • Kitchen Equipment Demo: Try out different adaptive kitchen equipment that help empower individuals to prepare their own healthy food.

Strategically developed to promote the real-world application of UD by CHWs, the interactive experience from the workshops has been met with enthusiasm from KYOCHW and CHWs across the state. One participant noted, “I learned a lot about how to present information in different ways so that everyone is able to understand and have access.”  Many attendees have affirmed they will use UD to better communicate with their clients. One participant said they will share the experience from the workshop with their staff and encourage “them to follow this structure for work they are doing with clients.”

The four workshops have hosted over 120 CHWs from across the state.  Two workshops were held in western Kentucky at Kenlake State Resort Park and Barren River State Resort Park. The central regional meeting, which included CHWs from Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort, and beyond, was hosted at the Kentucky Historical Society. HDI staff joined KYOCHW in eastern Kentucky on August 24th (Pine Mountain) and will meet again for the final regional meeting on November 2nd (Jenny Wiley). If you are interested in attending a workshop, please contact the Kentucky Office of Community Health Workers.

* UD is Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning.