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Rising Up for Better Health

Great impacts have been made by the Rise Up Central Kansas Project Coordinator and Peer Navigators over the course of the ITR grant. Located in Great Bend, Rise Up Central Kansas is a task force under the Central Kansas Partnership with the mission of growing a resilient community for all, including people with lived experiences of substance use disorder (SUD), poverty and mental health issues. The unique approach of this ITR grant illustrated the critical importance of intentionally engaging the SUD community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the lifetime of vaccines. 


According to a nationally renowned SUD and vaccine research and medical doctor, Eric Weintraub, he stated that "I believe we should be developing strategies to educate SUD individuals about the vaccination process.” Dr. Weintraub is the Director of the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


Rise Up Central Kansas developed strategies to educate people on the vaccination process and the Project Coordinator and Peer Navigators helped remove barriers and engaged with the local and regional SUD community to inform, engage in dialogue and provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine and the lifetime of vaccines.


The intentionality of conducting mobile meetings was important because it's about meeting people where they're at - especially when transportation barriers are so significant. According to ITR Project Coordinator Amy Ferguson, these were the primary questions that people asked Amy and the Peer Navigators on the vaccine information they disseminated: "I thought the COVID-19 vaccine cost money," or "Why should I get the vaccine if I can still get COVID-19?"


These meaningful conversations provided an important opportunity to inform, educate and dispel misinformation.

Having these conversations with trusted people indeed moved the needle and transformed the community to pursuing better health.


The mobile meetings also improved the access to health and wellness of more than 300 participants for services such as:

  • A participant receiving transportation assistance to receive his prosthetic eye after an accident that occurred over seven years ago

  • Another participant being able to move forward in the rehabilitation process from knee surgery. As we know, the ability to access rehabilitation requires transportation and support.

  • A participant accessing outpatient treatment on a regular basis, thanks to the mobile transportation capabilities of the ITR grant

  • 11 people were able to access in-patient treatment

  • 9 people were able to access the ability to obtain identification. Often times, many folks in this community lack the resources or transportation to obtain essential personal identification - either in the form of a driver's license or photo identification card.

  • Countless opportunities to support peers who were new into their recovery process.

  • Transportation to numerous mental health appointments

  • Medicine Assisted Treatment appointments

  • Faith-based approach of providing access to church functions

  • Participation in the recovery community activities (bowling, mud volleyball and swimming pool outings) that foster fellowship, support in the recovery process

  • Participation in supporting community activities such as supporting food box pantry distribution, children's activities and beyond


Thanks to the efforts made by the ITR Project Coordinator and Peer Navigators, Rise Up Central Kansas is truly living up to its name and demonstrating how they're Rising Up for Better Health!

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