County Perry students improve accessibility to local park through UK’s CARAT-TOP program

Video produced by the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH). To view subtitles for this video, press play and click the CC icon in the lower right corner of the screen. If you are using a mobile device, click on the “thought bubble” in the same area.

HAZARD, Ky. (July 5, 2022) Perry County Central (PCC) High School students have been busy this summer at Perry County Park completing projects to make the park more accessible to people with disabilities. The group of 17 students is the first cohort to undergo an eight-week training on coordinating and supporting the reuse of assistive technologies: together, a priority, known as CARAT-TOP, is a new intergenerational training program created by the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH) and the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN). It brings together students of all abilities from local high schools and the community to learn new skills to help people and communities affected by disability.

During the spring semester, students participated in learning activities to deepen their knowledge of accessibility, assistive technologies and devices, universal design, how to approach community leaders, and way to create concrete solutions. Next, the students turned their attention to identifying a community location where they could use their newfound knowledge to make a difference. The students picked Perry County Park, divided into groups, and got to work surveying the park for opportunities to improve accessibility to the mini-golf course, pool, game and picnic shelters. The students presented their proposed projects to the Perry County Tax Court for review. The projects received approval from Perry County Executive Judge Scott Alexander and funding from the CARAT-TOP grant, awarded by the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities, giving the students the green light to move forward.

The group that chose the play area worked to remove the dividing wall in two sections of the play area and install rubber tiles for wheelchair access. The miniature golf group painted the edges of the course to improve depth and kerbside perception, and added flags with poles and LED warning lights so people with visual and hearing impairments can better access on the course. The group that chose the pool area painted the edges of the pool to help swimmers with visual impairments. They have also lowered one side of the entrance counter to a height that will allow anyone using a wheelchair to access forms or payment, and create a wheelchair accessible entrance to the area. The final group chose the picnic shelter area, where they identified the need for wheelchair accessible benches and painted the edges of the entrance.

Perry County Executive Judge Scott Alexander said park improvements like these are on county leaders’ radar and they’re excited to involve students.

The students were recognized towards the end of the school year at a special event where they received certificates for completing the CARAT-TOP program. The students also offered walking tours to those in attendance, including elected officials, school officials, parents and UK CERH CARAT-TOP organisers.

Alexander and other officials in attendance, including State Senator Brandon Smith and State Representative Chris Fugate, commended the student group for taking such an important initiative to implement projects that will benefit the whole community and will have a lasting impact.

“CARAT-TOP was specifically created to empower the next generation to be agents of change in their community. Seeing that the graduation ceremony was everything to them upset them at first,” said Patrick Kitzman, Ph.D., a professor at the UK College of Health Sciences. “However, in the end, I think they were able to begin to see in themselves what we have all seen; that they are important, relevant and capable of bringing about real change in their community”,

“The first year of CARAT-TOP has been so inspiring as our youth and community partners learn from each other to identify, plan and implement ideas to improve our community for people of ALL abilities.” said Fran Feltner, Ph.D., Director of UK CERH. “I have been impressed with how our young people are becoming the leaders of tomorrow. Great things can and will happen.

The CARAT-TOP program will be expanded in the near future to provide opportunities not only for PCC students, but also for students at Buckhorn High School and Hazard High School. As CARAT-TOP continues to grow, future participants will have the opportunity to learn even more skills, including how to refurbish used medical equipment, adapt toys and other life technology devices. assistance, prototype new plays and develop strategies to engage community stakeholders including leaders, businesses. , religious communities, local media and others.

For more information about CARAT-TOP, contact Keisha Hudson, Rural Project Manager at UK CERH, [email protected] or 606-439-3557.

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About Coordinating and Supporting the Reuse of Assistive Technology: Together We Make a Priority (CARAT-TOP)

CARAT-TOP is a 10-week, intergenerational training program created by the University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health and the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Networks to bring together students of all abilities from local high schools and community to learn new skills to help people and communities affected by disability. In addition to the 10-week intergenerational training program, CARAT-TOP also includes: the CARAT project, a program for the refurbishment and reuse of medical equipment; Toys with a purpose: Adapted toy lending library; and an internship/apprenticeship program for workforce development.

About the University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health

The University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health was established by state legislation in 1990 to address health disparities in rural Kentucky and the unique challenges facing our communities. The mission was and still is today to improve the health and well-being of people in rural Kentucky. For more than two decades, the center has partnered with communities, providers, students and individuals to provide health professions education, health policy research, health care services and a community engagement to achieve this mission.

About the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network

The Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network (KARRN) is a collaborative team that advocates for the empowerment of communities affected by disability. Established in 2008, this community-engaged network has studied and developed strategies to reduce disability and improve the quality of life for people with neurological disorders (spinal cord injury (SCI), brain injury (BI), stroke stroke, etc.) living in underserved areas and poor rural counties of Appalachia. Under the KARRN umbrella is the CARAT (Coordination and Support for the Reuse of Assistive Technology) project run by physiotherapy students. The University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health is pleased to be a long-time partner of KARRN and the CARAT project.

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