Campus News

UK celebrates National Public Health Week with opportunities to learn and engage

A previous Public Health Week celebration.
UK College of Public Health students celebrating during a previous National Public Health Week. This year's celebration runs from April 1-7. Photo provided by UK College of Public Health.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2024) — Public health is more important than ever.  

Unfortunately, the public health policies, authorities and budgets that could make our nation healthier are facing challenges.  

What’s part of the solution? Public health professionals being more engaged in shaping public policy and helping build political will, said Shelley Hearne, Dr.P.H., a distinguished changemaker and professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health

“We’ve been a little bit on the sidelines the last few decades,” said Hearne, who will be giving a lecture on campus as part of the College of Public Health’s National Public Health Week celebrations. “We need to rebuild our skills, knowledge, and muscles for championing a stronger public health system. We have been studying the problems, now we have to be problem solvers too.”  

Hearne’s lecture, “How to be a Public Health Advocate,” will be among the events kicking off the National Public Health Week events at the University of Kentucky.  

All of the week’s events are open to the public.  

Hearne is excited to not only share the importance of public health professionals engaging with the world of policy but also engage with attendees about issues around the country or the unique challenges facing Kentucky. The presentation is courtesy of the endowed chair in Rural Health Policy at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  

Directly before Hearne’s talk, the cross-campus Public Health Parade will get the week’s events underway. Attendees should gather for the walk at the College of Public Health’s Research Facility #1 at 12:15 p.m. The parade will make its way to William T. Young Library, where Hearne’s lecture will start at 1 p.m. in the library’s auditorium. An option to listen remotely is available as well.  

“My talk will be focused on why it is so important that we engage,” Hearne said. “And how can we do it in a way that’s safe and makes us stronger as a field?”   

 The work of public health extends well beyond health care. Hearne’s career — which included being president of CityHealth, catalyzes city policies for healthier living, and founding the Trust for America’s Health, a national organization dedicated to preventing epidemics – epitomizes that fact.  

Regardless if you're in government, if you're in a business environment, if you're working out in the community, you need basic skills on how to help strengthen the protections and the policies that ensure that we all have the healthiest living opportunities,” Hearne said.

The first 100 students at the presentation will receive a copy of Hearne’s book, “Policy Engagement.” The book offers the public health workforce the basics of being more effective at engaging the wider public in policy discussions

“We've got to be trained in how to how to be real and engage with people wherever they are, whether it's our community or our politicians,” Hearne said. "We got to make sure that our information is being helpful and is being inserted into the decision-making process.” 

Public Health Week will feature other opportunities to hear from public health professionals sharing knowledge gained from on-the-ground experience.  

Scott Lockard, the public health director for the Kentucky River District Health Department, will be speaking on the preventing and addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a lecture Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the UK Law Building G. Chad Perry III Grand Courtroom.  

Lockard has over 33 years of experience in public health. Prior to joining the Kentucky River District Health Department, Lockard served as the director of the Clark County Health Department for a dozen years.   

On Friday, Kendra Stooksbury, the resilient connections coordinator at Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, will be hosting the Lean On Me Kentucky training.  

Offered over Zoom at 10 a.m., the training will focus on recognizing and reporting child abuse. Attendees can take the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky oath and throughout the following week are welcome to visit Research Facility #1 to sign the Prevent Child Abuse banner.  

A partial schedule of the National Public Health Week festivities are below. For more information and a full schedule, which includes online National Public Health Week events, check the College of Public Health’s website here 


Public Health Parade: 

  • Location: Start at College of Public Health, Research Facility #1 and finish at the W.T. Young Library 

  • Time: 12:15 p.m. gather; 12:30 p.m. to start 

"How to be a Public Health Advocate" from Shelley Hearne, the Deans Sommer and Klag Distinguished Professor of the Practice and Director of Lerner Center for Health Advocacy in Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health

National Public Health Week/College of Public Health Reception: Immediately following Dr. Hearne's presentation. 

  • Location: W.T. Young Alumni Gallery 


4 Paws For Ability: Unwind with some furry friends in the University’s 4Paws program. 

Preventing and Addressing ACEs: Public Health in Practice from Scott Lockard, the public health director for the Kentucky River District Health Department.  

  • Location: UK Law Building G. Chad Perry III Grand Courtroom (Virtual: Click here for Zoom) 

  • Time: 2-3:15 p.m. 


Virtual Wellness Wednesday: The College of Public Health invites the CPH community to participate in "Practical Approaches to Self-Care" with Rhonda Henry, a licensed social worker from UK Human Resources.  

  • Location: Zoom 

  • Time: 9-10 a.m. 

Wellness Wednesday: The College of Public Health invites all CPH students, faculty, and staff to embark on a fun and education journey on their health with our faculty and staff. Students will receive a passport to visit each department. If students complete all activities, they will get a free CPH reusable water bottle (for students only). 


Wyatt Symposium: The John P. Wyatt, M.D. Environment & Health Symposium honors the legacy of John P. Wyatt and his pioneering environmental clinical research on air pollution and lung pathology. Universities and agencies from across the state have partnered to present research and practice on environment and its impacts on health with specific emphasis on Kentucky. 


Building a Hopeful Future Together: Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Virtual Presentation from Kendra Stooksbury, the Resilient Connections Coordinator at Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky.  

  • Location: Online via Zoom 

  • Time: 10-10:30 a.m. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.