By Hannah Givens

For the past two months I have been interning here at Kentucky Youth Advocates and am excited to share my experience.

I first became interested in KYA when I met Dr. Terry Brooks at a meeting in Frankfort, flipping through the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children fact sheet booklet while he explained KYA’s initiatives. From taking a public policy course at Wingate University (Thanks, Dr. Wobig), I understood the policy priorities and recommendations listed on the Blueprint agenda, and it took me back to the curiosity I felt in class.

There were many things that surprised me about the work that KYA does throughout the state of Kentucky. KYA collects data, links up with partner organizations, schools, communities, health departments, as well as advocates, and markets for communities and to reach families. The staff work to create opportunities and promote child well-being all over the state, and very much so succeed in every aspect.

I came in thinking, “Wow, this is such an opportunity and I know I am going to learn so much”, and as I am walking out, I’m adding, “I never thought I would learn this much!”

Now when I look at data points, I will not only be able to understand them, but also connect them to other data points. For example, the number of children that are coming into kindergarten ready to learn could be connected to the percentage of high school students graduating on time. This knowledge of connecting data points not only helps when coming up with solutions to help struggling graduation rates, but it has also helped me with the bigger picture of understanding how people are living and putting faces (from my community and state, even including myself and family) with the statistics. I see my state and hometown a little differently now — especially the kids!

My final project dealt with my hometown, Green County, where I presented statistics and solutions — solutions that KYA provides for communities along with some that I brainstormed myself — to community leaders! My project was brought about by the data provided by the the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Center, as well as KYA’s 2016 County Data Book. I presented on economic stability, health, as well as education to help provide ideas and solutions for kids in my hometown. 

This with KYA opportunity has broadened my perspective and knowledge of education, economic security, early childhood, and health issues in Kentucky. The children, youth, and families are very lucky to have advocates pushing for Kentucky to be the best place for them.

Hannah Givens is a rising Junior majoring in Political Science at Wingate University in North Carolina, and is originally from Greensburg in South Central Kentucky. She has been a student intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates this summer. Stay tuned next week as she shares the outcome of her final project.