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Meeting People Where They Are—Healthy Start West Valley

Just in time for back to school, U of U Health hosted its second annual Healthy Start West Valley event at Centennial Park in West Valley City on August 4.

“We had nearly 2,000 people in attendance at the event—even larger than last year,” said RyLee Curtis, Director of Community Engagement at U of U Health. “This is an opportunity to bring our health resources to the community, connect with people, and meet them where they are.”

Healthy Start West Valley Wellness Bus
The Utah Wellness Bus was onsite to provide vital diabetes screenings for West Valley residents.

U of U Health partnered with Granite School District, University Neighborhood Partners, Operation Warm, Ascent Academy, and West Valley City to provide community members with vaccinations, screenings for dental, vision, and diabetes, and a free pair of shoes to children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. 

The event aims to make health care and social resources easily accessible and promote health and well-being. When cost, geography, and time are barriers to people receiving basic screenings and immunizations, events like Healthy Start West Valley are an important part of keeping families healthy. The event is also ideal for asking health-related questions, learning about affordable health insurance options, and connecting to community resources like behavioral health, childcare, and educational opportunities.

“West Valley City has a strong history and is a rapidly diversifying community,” said Jake Fitisemanu, a West Valley City Council member. “The energy, vibrancy, and flavors make West Valley a great place to live. Our partnership with U of U Health is important to this community. Bringing programs and services off the main campus to people who can benefit from them—both the health screenings and community resources—improves the overall health of the entire community.”

Healthy Start West Valley School of Dentistry
The University of Utah School of Dentistry provided 89 dental screenings during the event.

Fitisemanu represents the area of West Valley where the future site of U of U Health’s new medical campus will be located. University of Utah will break ground on the site in 2024, but cross-campus teams are working now with partners and residents to develop education and training programs, build an engaged and diverse workforce, create innovative health programs that improve access, and build partnerships to help grow local economic opportunity.

Healthy Start West Valley is one of several initiatives that build trust and deepen connections with community members and West Valley partners. This year, Eye Care 4Kids conducted 255 vision screenings, The Wellness Bus provided 15 diabetes screenings, and the U of U School of Dentistry completed 89 dental screenings for West Valley residents. 

More than 50 exhibitors and booths, including 28 community-based organizations and 12 U of U departments and teams, were on site to provide critical connections to programs and resources. Forty-two volunteers, including several high school students, helped check people in, serve dinner, oversee activities, and set up and take down the event. Volunteers also gave away 350 pairs of shoes


“As someone interested in studying and promoting health, volunteering for Healthy Start West Valley is a great way to meet community members and understand more about the health needs of the West Valley area and the services available,” said Audrey Su, a volunteer and a senior at Skyline High School. “It’s important for the university to be here and make these connections. Also, seeing the kids’ excitement when they received their new shoes was the best! It was a unique and fun volunteer opportunity.”

Healthy Start West Valley
Healthy Start West Valley aims to make health care and social resources easily accessible to West Valley families.

Audrey is president of her school’s health club, Para Tu Salud, or “For Your Health.” Para Tu Salud is a youth-led initiative that promotes health equity in Utah communities. Some of their work includes publishing health-related educational brochures in English and Spanish, connecting people to free health services and clinics, posting information online, and volunteering. Engaging young people like Audrey is another benefit of Healthy Start West Valley. Partnering with schools and districts creates lasting relationships with parents, students, and educators.

Beyond a health fair, Healthy Start West Valley is an opportunity to bring the community together: health care professionals, community-based organizations, students, and residents to celebrate and promote health.

“I hope the takeaway from this event is that the University of Utah is here for our local communities,” RyLee Curtis said. “We want to be here as a partner, we want to support students and care for patients, and we want people to know we can make our programs and services accessible to everyone.”

University of Utah Health hosted its second annual Healthy Start West Valley event at Centennial Park in West Valley City on August 4.

Participating community partners: 

American Heart Association 

Bad Dog Arts

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Children’s Service Society 

Clark Planetarium 

Comunidad Materna en Utah 


English Skills Learning Center 

Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) 

Latino Behavioral Health Services 

Multicultural Counseling Center 

NeighborWorks Salt Lake 

Progressive Leasing 

Pushing Ahead 

Salt Lake Technical College 

Tracy Aviary 

United Way of Salt Lake 

Utah Assistive Technology Program

Utah Clean Energy 

Utah Community Action 

Utah Department of Health and Human Services

Medicaid/Chip & Family Health 

Utah Health Policy Project / Take Care Utah 

Utah Independent Living Center 

Utah Poison Control 

Waterford Upstart 

West Valley City Neighborhood Services


Participating University of Utah teams/programs: 



Huntsman Cancer Institute 

U of U Health Department of OB/GYN 

U of U Health Redwood Health Center 

U of U Health Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program (STITCH Study) 

U of U Health Transgender Health Program 

U of U Health Trauma Center 

University of Utah Health Plans 

University of Utah Admissions Office 

University of Utah Environment and Social Sustainability 

Want to get involved next year? Email 

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