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Alternative Spring Break

Children's Environmental Health in Perry County, KY

About The Trip: 

This trip will focus on the environmental factors affecting the health of low-income communities in the coal mining region of Eastern Kentucky, specifically targeting the pediatric population. We are looking to bring an interdisciplinary group of students on this journey to explore healthcare concerns in Appalachia, participate in public health advocacy/education, and gain exposure to hands-on clinical work. Our goal by the end of the week-long service trip is to provide participants with a greater understanding of how the unique environmental conditions of Eastern Kentucky, the tragic lack of jobs and income, and the overall culture of the region all affect the health and lifestyle of the people of Eastern Kentucky. We also hope to shed some light on the importance of environmental protection and nature preservation in hopes to help students gain a newfound appreciation of the natural world around us.

About the Social Justice Issue: 

This trip emerged as somewhat of a continuum or specialization from one of last year’s Alternative Spring Breaks titled, “Environmental Justice in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky”. On this past trip, we worked with an organization called Appalachia Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) and focused on topics of nature preservation, restoration, and science education in Kentucky’s coal mining communities. We gained an immense amount of exposure to the environmental conditions in this area, such as the negative effects of mountain-top coal mining.

The Appalachia region running through West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky are targets for mountain top coal mining, and with that comes the destruction of these mountains. In 2014, 67% of our electricity was from fossil fuels and 45% was from burning coal. We have seen the detrimental effects that coal mining has on Mother Nature, and therefore this yeae we are honing in on how this Appalachian practice is affecting the local community’s health, access to care, and economic growth. The future generations of Appalachia are our main target, hence our topic “Children’s Environmental Health.”

About the Leaders: 

Emily Dong: "I am currently a 4th year nursing student at Emory University with interests in the study of infectious diseases, pain pathways, environmental preservation, and pediatrics. Outside of nursing school, my main hobbies are outdoor recreation activities, mainly long-distance running and rock climbing. I was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in San Francisco, California, so the West Coast is where I consider home. I started my journey at Oxford College of Emory University. Emory has quickly grown to be where I consider my second home."

Ava Raddatz: "I am a 2nd year student in the College majoring in Human Health on the pre-med track, I want to eventually end up in Pediatrics! I was born and raised just outside Chicago, Illinois. I am very involved on campus as a Tour Guide, one of the original 7 Crossroads Champions, a Peer Health Partner, Representative at Large for Emory Quest Scholars, and a GLUE and HUES Mentor! I also worked in a Pediatric Research Lab during my first year and I intern for a Chicago start-up company called Packback! Emory definitely became my home away from home after I started becoming very involved on campus."

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