In 2018, Highlands Health System (now Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center) and UK Markey Cancer Center teamed up to create a new program that showcased the knowledge and determination of area high school students. The Youth Health Ambassador Program trains exceptional students to teach health and wellness to their younger peers using visual aids, question and answer sessions, and Markey’s Get Fit, Be Smart, Don’t Start curriculum.

Youth Health Ambassadors Alexia Hall and Alison Campbell were chosen represent Floyd County, and Jaxson Ratliff and Sarah Thompson represent Johnson County. Collectively since 2018, the Ambassadors have educated approximately 300 fourth and fifth grade students to adopt healthy habits, such as eating well, maintaining healthy fitness levels, and staying up to date on screenings. They’ve taught about abstaining from habits that can have a lasting effect on young lives, such as smoking, vaping, texting and driving and even succumbing to peer pressure.

As they end their tenure as Youth Health Ambassadors, Highlands ARH and UK Markey Cancer Center are proud to extend a monetary scholarship to all four ambassadors. Along with the scholarships, the Youth Health Ambassadors have obtained excellent experience for their college applications and resumes, and have greatly developed their public speaking skills.

“The boost in the students’ self-esteem has become so apparent during this program,” said Zelma Watson, Prestonsburg High School’s Allied Health teacher. “The program has instilled confidence to speak before peers and staff, while at the same time strengthening their own knowledge of health. It has been a huge success and I am excited that my students were given the opportunity to participate.”

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