Magazine Winter 2018 Issue

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Page 14 of 39

WINTER 2018 13 STAFF SPOTLIGHT On any given day, Jessica Criss may be on the phone with a vendor working out contract details for an upcoming alumni reception, draing a briefing document with a minute-by-minute timeline of what and who to expect at an event, or deep in "attire assignment" for the University's commencement ceremony. at's because as KCU's communications and events specialist, Criss dedicates her time to creating memorable experiences for the University's alumni, students, faculty, staff and iends at any number of events throughout the year. It's a job that she excels at, thanks to a degree in public relations and her years of experience working in higher education. But 22 years ago, Jessica Criss was a kindergarten student with a much different connection to KCU. At an assembly at Westridge Elementary in Raytown, Missouri, former Kansas City Chiefs safety Deron Cherry spoke to the student body about keeping their own bodies healthy, happy and active. e year was 1995, and the room was abuzz with students sitting row aer row, cross-legged on the floor. e energy in the room was the type of electricity only a room of children can generate. "KC Wolf, the Chiefs mascot, was running around to get everyone even more excited," Criss remembered, "and then, aer the assembly, it was like we were thrown into this awesome maze." e maze wasn't an obstacle course for field day, Deron Cherry wasn't there to talk about the perfect tackle, and little Criss wasn't the one planning the event. Instead, the day that Criss remembers – vividly, even now – was the first time she participated in a Score 1 for Health screening, sponsored by KCU. A preventive health screening program for elementary-aged children in a number of Kansas City's under-resourced communities, Score 1 provides health assessments though the dedicated work of registered nurses and nutrition experts, as well as first- and second- year osteopathic medical students. By treating patients through Score 1, these KCU students receive early clinical experiences in pediatric primary care, augmenting their education. Like many others who were born and raised in Kansas City, Criss wasn't overly familiar with KCU before she interviewed for a staff position at the university. But before her interview, Criss quickly realized she w already familiar with KCU when she saw Score 1 listed on the university website and recalled her own experiences with the program. Criss sees the impact that the program makes for local families, and it brings back memories of her own experiences with the program. "Looking back, I didn't know how important they were," Criss said about the "maze" of well-organized stations that took her om room to room for various health assessments, "but I still remember those screenings and how aerwards my parents would give the report to our family doctor so that he could have that extra resource." While Criss's family had a regular primary care physician that she and her siblings routinely visited, not all Score 1 kids are that fortunate. For many children in Kansas City's low-income and urban core communities, Score 1's registered nurses, nutrition experts and student doctors provide the only preventive health screenings they receive. And, thanks to Score 1, the screenings are ee for families and are provided in the convenient setting of their own elementary schools. Annette Campbell, RN, has been the director of Score 1 for Health since its inception and stated that Criss's school, Westridge Elementary, was the first Score 1 school when Cherry and Robert Ricci, DO (COM '68), started the program in 1993. "Dave Coffman, the former principal at Westridge, was a huge proponent of the program, and he was so supportive of Deron's and Ricci's vision," Campbell said. Criss, too, recalled Coffman's enthusiasm for the program and remembered that "even as kids, we could all tell that Score 1 was something that Principal Coffman really cared about. He knew how important this program was, and still is, to the families in Raytown. Even though not every single student in my school needed the ee screenings, there were students who desperately did. I don't think I knew that then. But, now I know how much Score 1 gave back to my school and how it changed lives." Score 1 continues to change the lives of Kansas City families. Next year, Score 1 will celebrate its 25th anniversary of providing health screenings; but, it will also be celebrating the amazing growth and lasting impact of the program. In its first year of operation, Score 1 provided screenings to 240 children; now, Score 1 conducts its invaluable health assessments for staggering 13,000+ Kansas City kids every year. With memories of her own Score 1 screenings combined with a newfound pride she feels for the program's impact on Kansas City's under-resourced communities, Criss said that working at KCU was a moment for which she seemed destined. "It's an amazing feeling to work alongside a program that – decades ago – wanted to make sure that I had a good life. And now, a big part of my life is working for the University that makes Score 1's services possible for kids today. It's like coming full circle." " ...NOW I KNOW HOW MUCH SCORE 1 GAVE BACK TO MY SCHOOL, AND HOW IT CHANGED LIVES."

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