This past June, the Kansas City Health Department started the Ambassador Wellness Program to assist residents to stay updated on community health information. To date, fifty-three residents have signed up to share this information with the public. The Kansas City Health Department is trying this program as a new way to connect with residents, and provide them with trustworthy information and services.
Tonille Starr Williams has been a wellness ambassador since the beginning of the program.
“The community wellness ambassadors go out into the community to see what the people may need or desire. The goal is to give them access to these resources they may need, like birth certificates, tuberculosis tests, childcare and many more,” said Williams.
The goal is to encourage residents to take advantage of these services, and reach out to ask questions about health information.
“People think the health department is only for STD and STI checks, but they have a lot of different programs. People can get childhood immunizations, sexual health clinic, violence prevention, and adult travelers immunization clinics,” said Williams.
The Wellness Ambassadors are trained to give presentations or simply to have conversations with people about the health department services and on health topics that concern residents.
Dona Lackey is another Wellness Ambassador who lived in Northeast from 1991-1995.
“The aim is education and getting information out about the community. A lot of people don’t know about the benefits of the health department,” said Lackey. “It’s mostly about information awareness. Through the Wellness program we are learning what is true, to educate people of what they are hearing whether it is by social media or the news.”
The Wellness Ambassadors are dispersed throughout Kansas City to inform the public.
“This program is beneficial to Kansas City, because it educates us to inform our neighbors, family, and peers around us,” said Lackey. “There’s a lot of people who are wanting to make a change.”
The ambassadors are business owners, teachers, nurses, and other professions who encounter the public every day. Williams owns her own fitness business (Starr Luvly Bodies) which inspired her to join the ambassador program.
“I see a lot of different people who are in need from the homeless, to big families, to single mothers. I wanted to sign up to be a liaison for people to help them in any way I can,” said Williams.
The Health department offers programs and services for adolescents up to adults. The department is also recruiting ambassadors that speak Spanish to reach Kansas City’s
Hispanic/Latinx communities. As Kansas City becomes more diverse, they need ambassadors who are able and willing to communicate with residents whose first language is not English.
For a lot of Wellness Ambassadors, health and wellness is important information to spread to their communities. They also receive a stipend of $225 per month for their communicative efforts. Visit https://www.kcmo.gov/city-hall/departments/health for more information.