New health screenings for kids in Provo are bringing benefits to the community

Jul 4, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:01 am

A student at the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine giving a vision test to a child as part of ...

Students at Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine helping children in health screenings for Kafusi's Keikis program. (Credit: Noorda-COM)

(Credit: Noorda-COM)

PROVO, Utah — A new program to provide elementary-school-age children with free annual health screenings is coming to Provo.

Established by Provo City Mayor Michelle Kafusi, Kaufusi’s Keikis will benefit children and parents by providing opt-in screenings that are more in-depth than the basic hearing and vision assessments some schools already implement.

Students from the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine will be conducting the screenings.

“Noorda is very committed to community service. We want to be an integral part of the local community, and this will be a great way to give our students exposure to working out in the community. But it also gives us the opportunity to be role models for children who want to see students that look like them and to have that opportunity to see themselves in those roles,” explained Schyler Richards, vice president at Noorda-COM.

Included in the screenings

These new screenings include:

  • Blood pressure tests
  • Physical assessments
  • Height/weight calculations
  • Dental checks
  • Basic neurological exams
  • Vision tests
  • Hearing screenings
A student at the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine giving a vision test to a child as part of Kafusi's Keikis

A student at the Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine is giving a vision test to a child as part of Kafusi’s Keikis. (Credit: Noorda-COM)

In addition to these screenings, Kaufusi’s Keikis offers resources to guide parents through potential follow-up care situations.

“It’s giving us opportunities to work with the city, to work with the school district, to help address potential challenges within those populations within the students,” said Dr. John Dougherty, dean of Noorda-COM.

Screenings are not mandatory. Each student must receive consent from a parent to participate, which Richards said is an important factor.

“Parents should have the ability to choose whether or not their child gets an annual health screening.”

Additional screening benefits

These screenings will provide helpful data for the city and Noorda-COM to discover potential geographical areas that may have nutritional deficits.

“If we find within a certain geographic area or ZIP code or school district a higher propensity of childhood obesity, then we can take it to the next step. What kind of resources do the parents need? Is it a food desert? Do they not have access to veggies and fresh fruit? Or do they need to learn how to address healthy eating habits?” Richards said.

Richards said that by working with the city, Noorda-COM will be able to find areas that may need more health education or nutritional benefits, and then find ways to mitigate the problem.

“By partnering with the school district and the city, we can take it to the next step and start addressing some of those health concerns.”

Program precedents

This isn’t the first time a program like this has been implemented.

Score 1 for Health was piloted by Dr. Dougherty in Kansas City.

It is a similar preventative health program that provides free, in-school health screenings for elementary-schoo aged children.

“We started a veggie truck because there were food deserts, and we identified locations to where students were getting many of their nutrition from fast food restaurants because their parents could not easily get to a grocery store,” explained Dr. Dougherty.

This is why Noorda-COM’s partnership with the school district and city of Provo is critical, so that once trouble spots are identified, each party can work together to bring forth solutions.

Partnerships and organization

The screenings will be administered by Noorda-COM student doctors.

Once the program expands, other pre-med students from Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and Roseman University will join to conduct assessments.

Currently, there are only three Tier-1 Provo elementary schools that will be involved in the pilot program this year.

Kafusi’s Keikis is funded through donations, sponsorship gifts and volunteer hours and service. Additionally, sponsorship funds from the Provo Advantage Pro-Am golf tournament are being used to launch the program.

A table featuring Kafusi's Keikis at the Provo Pro-Am golf tournament.

A table featuring Kafusi’s Keikis at the Provo Pro-Am golf tournament. (Credit: Noorda-COM)

Richards said the college and city can’t wait to begin piloting the program in the fall.

“It’s a really exciting program that everybody is embracing, and we’re really moving it forward.”

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New health screenings for kids in Provo are bringing benefits to the community