Bilingual Health Fair Aids Madison County Community Residents

Published on June 07, 2023

By Makenzie Winkler

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) hosted a bilingual health fair at the Madison County Public Library on Saturday, May 6, 2023. EKU students in the Spanish program joined faculty and staff to serve as volunteer interpreters and translators. Over 120 people attended the health fair.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau brief on health insurance coverage, Hispanic or Latino people have among the highest uninsured rate in the nation at 17.7%. EKU’s bilingual health fair aimed to help improve health literacy, promote health equity, address cultural barriers to healthcare and prevent chronic health issues within the community. The health fair featured free health screenings and informational items.

“It was great to witness the community and student volunteers benefiting from the resources at the fair and enjoying the event,” said Jackeline Almaraz, a graduate student in EKU’s public health program. “It's important for the community to achieve and sustain good health by ensuring everyone has equal access to resources. The health fair is a great way to ensure that all participants have access to health-related resources in both English and Spanish, enabling them to comprehend the information better and make informed decisions about their health.”

Almaraz and a classmate started the bilingual health fair in 2022. For her coordination of the first bilingual health fair held in November, Almaraz won an award from the College of Health Sciences in recognition of outstanding community engagement. 

“Through this experience, I have improved my ability to communicate and network with various community organizations and leaders, enhancing my personal and professional skills,” Almaraz said. “I had a great time at the health fair, because one of my greatest passions is assisting my Latino community.”

“It is rewarding to see our students apply the language and cultural knowledge that they’ve learned in the classroom to engage with the local Latino community,” said Dr. Abbey Poffenberger, chair of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology. “This bilingual health fair gave the students the opportunity to hone their skills to interact effectively with people from diverse backgrounds while supporting the community.”

The annual event was organized by students, sponsored by Anthem Medicaid, and supported by the Madison County Library, the EKU Public Health program and the Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Ríos Bilingual Peer Mentor and Tutoring Center in the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology. During the event, organizers were able to renew existing partnerships and establish new partnerships in preparation for future health fairs. 

Learn more about EKU’s Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology, or public health degree programs.