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The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Public Health students support their local community

Valentines Day cards made by members of the Student Public Health Association at the University of Kentucky for the kids at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital on February 8, 2024, in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Student Public Health Association (SPHA) decorated and donated Valentine’s Day cards for patients at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, according to Julia Kollitz, president of the SPHA.

All students were welcomed to the first-time event on Thursday, Feb. 8 and encouraged to fill their cards with loving and supportive messages for the children.

Sami Jones, SPHA community service chair, said she brought the idea forward after learning that the hospital accepts card drop-offs and donations, especially around the holidays.

“I wanted to give those kids an outlet and a resource to be a kid again and enjoy themselves so I thought having this fun little card-making and donating event would be a good way to brighten their days,” Jones said.

Jones’ position was created only last semester as part of SPHA’s ongoing efforts to support the local community. Community health is a big piece of public health, according to Ashley Grospitch, SPHA social media and communications chair.

“Julia has a really community-focused orient toward our club, and I think that’s really important because public health is community, they go hand-in-hand,” Jones said.

In the past, SPHA has supported Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a non-profit supporting refugees in Lexington, by hosting a toiletry donation drive.

In her role as president, Kollitz, a graduate student studying public health, said SPHA’s events intend to promote different sides of public health so that students, whether in the College of Public Health or not, can see how applicable public health is in the real world.

Jones said she hopes to have an impact within the community, especially as the first member to hold the position of community service chair. Jones has firsthand experience with a childhood spent in the hospital. 

Diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus as a baby and chronically ill since then, Jones said she is especially passionate about this project.

“Even spending one, two days there is absolutely horrible, it’s very isolating and very dehumanizing,” Jones said.

Having had both positive and negative experiences in health care, Jones was inspired by how public health focuses on every person collectively, rather than targeting a certain illness.

“We have some of the most passionate people about public health in this group, in this room, and I really enjoy working with them and seeing everything they get to work on,” Grospitch said.

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