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A Clean Water Education and Training Program for Rural Appalachia

Lisa Davenport, clinical assistant professor and manager of the Appalachia Community Health and Disaster and Relief Project, with the help of her colleagues in the College of Nursing, used her 2015 Community Engagement Grant to develop and implement the WASH education and training program. In partnership with the Red Bird Mission Christian School in Beverly, Kentucky, materials and education were provided to 116 students in grades 5-12 over the course of two days.

Lisa Davenport

Lisa Davenport

“The relationships between Red Bird Mission and the UT Community Health and Disaster Readiness Project flourished throughout collaboration with a variety of different disciplines,” said Davenport.

Part of the education program involved teaching students the importance of a reliable source for drinking water through use of a water kiosk, which was built on the Red Bird Mission campus. Students engaged in hygiene and sanitation activities that allowed them to physically see leftover germs on their hands with glow-germ technology and a myriad of bacteria found in dirty water with microscopic examination and water purity testing techniques.

Davenport hopes to further education with WASH to focus on sanitation issues that they have found to be contributing to the root of the community’s water contamination problem.

She said the school is situated in a remote, rural area that is not easily accessible all-year round. In addition to finding solutions to water quality concerns, the WASH education program collected data through their Water Knowledge Survey to get a better idea of healthy drinking habits among community members.

“Through focus group dialogue, the university team was able to glean perspectives from the community about water quality, accessibility of clean water and strategies to further educate students at the school and the larger community,” Davenport said.

Davenport and her partners consider integration of community input with design and development for community education to be vitally important to the success of any project meant to be community-based.

The Appalachia Community Health & Disaster Readiness project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under UD7HP26205 and Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention Inter-professional Collaborative Practice grant. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.