April 12, 2006

For the second year in a row Kentucky is hosting a national conference that brings together health professionals and educators from across the country to discuss the latest research-based health information.

The 2006 National Priester Health Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Louisville Hotel, begins Monday, April 24, with a preconference youth summit titled “Youth, Substance Abuse and Protective Factors: Integrating Research, Policy and Community Practice.”  The daylong national event features Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins in “A Conversation with ‘The Country Boys.’” The keynote address, “Transforming What We See and What We Do With Youth,” will be given by Marc Mannes, director of research and evaluation at Search Institute.

America’s youth are increasingly influenced by sociocultural and peer pressures toward experimentation with, and addiction to, substances such as methamphetamines, cocaine, crack cocaine, alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs and even food. In an effort to address these issues for and with youth, the University of Kentucky’s Health Education through Extension Leadership, or HEEL, program will host both the conference and preconference.

“Unfortunately, addictive behaviors are increasingly entrenched in the culture of the USA’s social landscape and it’s the goal of health officials and educators attending this conference to bring about more awareness of information and programs designed to reverse this trend,” said Deborah Murray, associate director for HEEL, a collaborative effort of UK’s Colleges of Agriculture, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Social Work.

In addition to Mannes’ keynote address and the unique discussion with “The Country Boys” facilitated by John Zalenski, associate director of Jim Casey Youth Opportunities, the preconference will bring together adult and youth representatives from many national youth-serving organizations to discuss the roles of protective factors, resilience and community partnerships in preventing substance abuse among youth, and promoting positive youth development and leadership in wellness and health arenas. To help participants share strategies, the latest research and evidence-based practices, adult and youth partnerships will facilitate small-group dialogue.

The 2006 National Priester Health Conference titled “The Race is On: Translating Research into Policy and Practice for Healthier Communities” will follow the preconference and will run April 25 through 27. One of the featured speakers during the Priester conference will be Colien Hefferan, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The preconference Youth Summit will begin with a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. (EST) Monday, April 24, and will follow with the summit at 8:30 a.m. For more information on the Youth Summit or for registration information, please contact Hollie Anderson with the UK Cooperative Extension HEEL Program at (859) 257-2968 or visit the conference 


Hollie Anderson, (859) 257-2968