In the summer of 2009 a group of young women in Letcher County sat down with Gabriela Alcalde, then director of the Kentucky Health Justice Network, to talk about reproductive health experiences they had growing up and living in east Kentucky. Conversation ranged from the limited sex education offered in school to lack of information and access to reproductive health options to concerns about confidentiality and privacy when visiting local health care providers.
From that discussion came the East Kentucky Reproductive Health Project, originally a collaboration between Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative and Appalachian Media Institute and the Kentucky Health Justice Network. EKRHP uses peer-produced media and community outreach to give voice and visibility to the reproductive health experiences, concerns and needs of women, especially young women, in Appalachian Kentucky. Short videos on a wide range of reproductive health topics created by AMI Correspondents (young woman trained through EKRHP) are posted on www.ekrhp.org along with discussion guides, detailed information on our bodies, and an extensive listing of resources regionally and nationally. EKRHP also has an active Facebook page. Like us!
Greg Sturgill lives in Lynch, Ky and is active with the Harlan County KFTC Chapter. He has served as a registered nurse for 23 years and wrote this after reading Cara Stewart's article on Kynect and the Affordable Care Act in a recent edition of Balacing the Scales.
With January first rapidly approaching, I look forward to a battle that has been very near and dear to my heart coming to a satisfactory resolution. Effective January 1st, under the Affordable Healthcare Act, not only can practically every American receive much-needed healthcare, no longer can they be discriminated against with minimal or non-coverage due to pre-existing health conditions, regardless of whether or not they had previous coverage. It’s a day many hard working Americans, rich, poor or middle-class have been waiting, in some cases, their whole working lives for!
Members of the Rowan County Chapter of KFTC helped organize the record turn out for the first reading of the proposed Fairness Ordinance at the Morehead City Council meeting on Monday, November 11.
Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews, who had been in contact with the Rowan chapter regarding the proposed ordinance, spoke eloquently for its need and thanked the council for its work in this matter. Individual council members voiced their commitment to Fairness, and thanked members of the community for coordinating such an impressive show of support, before unanimously voting to approve the first reading.
The ordinance will have its second reading at the council’s December meeting. If the second reading passes and the ordinance becomes law, Morehead will become the sixth city in Kentucky have a Fairness Ordinance on the books.
Shelby County KFTC member Leslie McBride wanted to help get the word out to people in her community about signing up for the Affordable Care Act. After being turned down by several grocery stores management to have an official table in front of the store, Leslie decided to just take large stacks of handouts and a clipboard to the parking lots of those stores. Below is what she wrote about the experience.
"A couple of weekends ago, I handed out information about the Affordable Care Act to people in parking lots in Shelbyville. Nine out of ten people wanted the information; they were hungry for it, even though it was pouring down rain for the last half hour. I heard powerful stories of people who needed healthcare, whose children needed healthcare, who had been to the library to connect to the kynect link. People of all races, ages and walks of life approached me. I gave out everything I had, and could have given out ten times as much. People need this, and I urge everyone to support this movement."
In Kentucky, food stamps helps about 878,000 people get enough to eat. That’s about 20 percent of all Kentucky residents, roughly about the same number of those who live in poverty. But many are likely to get hungrier as cuts take effect.
Jefferson County Chapter recently chose to identify local issues as a way to both improve the county and also reach out to a broader section of the urban population that is not yet connected to KFTC’s statewide work. The process for local issue selection is not obvious. Assembled KFTC members have no shortage of issues, quickly identifying years worth of issues worthy of grassroots attention. There is no shortage of cooperative attitude, but there are many potential approaches to this important decision process.
Chapter members agreed the first step to selecting the chapter issue was to brainstorm issues to be discussed at the April chapter meeting. KFTC principles for issue selection were presented by Jefferson County organizer Alicia Hurle, and discussion led to additional criteria being added. The group determined a local issue should be one that is winnable with opportunities for action in the short term, even if completely winning would ultimately take focus over a longer time horizon. The group also agreed the ideal local issue would be important to people in areas not currently connected to state wide work. We want an issue that will energize the chapter and get members involved in our work. Outreach to chapter members encouraged them to contribute issues they would like to see considered and were invited to participate in discussion of issues and the process for selecting issues at the next chapter meeting.
Kendell Nash, a KFTC member in Jefferson County, does not shy away from ways to make Kentucky better, and there are certainly some good starting points that most Kentuckians are aware of, especially this week. But yesterday, after signing up her family for health insurance on KYNECT, Kendell said, "It feels very good to be a Kentuckian right now."
Kentucky is playing a key role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is the only southern state to have opened up a state-based marketplace. (Governor Beshear's affirmation of how Kentuckians would benefit drew national acclaim. Check out this New York Times story about the pepople left behind in states that have not opted in.) It is one of only two southern states (Arkansas is the other) to be moving toward expanding Medicaid to higher incomes. Further, the process of getting people signed up for health coverage seems to have gone better in Kentucky than in many other states.
Scanning KFTC’s social media feeds confirms, of course, frustration over tactics by House Republicans, and fear about the impact of the government shutdown. Attempts to confirm weekend hikes, fall camping trips, and sources for research projects kept bumping up against websites that are now closed because of the federal government shutdown. The impact of the shutdown will continue until well after it has passed. What we know now is that it will be significant, with thousands of federal workers furloughed, Head Start programs shutting down, federal school lunch programs and WIC uncertain, and the EPA basically shuttered.
On September 24, Southern Kentucky KFTC members came together for their regular monthly chapter meeting with many big updates and even bigger plans for the next few months.
Steering Committee representatives updated members on the recent steering committee retreat held in Whitesburg, which provided both an orientation to newly elected representatives and an exciting start to our Fall Fundraising campaign. Several local members have agreed to participate in our Power Builders program, joining members all across Kentucky to celebrate KFTC’s focus on growing a healthy democracy as we raise funds, awareness, and members. To see how to join in this HUGE event, visit our KFTC POWER BUILDER page.