UA Partners with Kid One Transport to Help Children Reach Medical Care

by Cathy Andreen

Shomari Thomas, 4, and his mother, LaShondra Cannon, have benefited from Kid One Transport's services.
Shomari Thomas, 4, and his mother, LaShondra Cannon, have benefited from Kid One Transport’s services.

Many West Alabama children will get the medical care they need thanks to a partnership between The University of Alabama and Kid One Transport System. The partnership has provided $500,000 in federal funds to support the expansion of Kid One services in West Alabama.

Kid One is a statewide nonprofit transit system that provides free transportation to children and expectant mothers who have little or no means of accessing transportation for needed medical care. The new funding supports the expansion of Kid One’s services in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties.

The funding was made possible through the efforts of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), a clinical program at the UA School of Law, with the assistance of Dr. Robert Wells, UA interim vice president for research. ADAP secured the funds through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration under the Job Access Reverse Commute Program.

“Transportation is a critical issue for those with disabilities, and Kid One’s mission fits very closely with our mission,” said Reuben Cook, ADAP executive director. “Kid One’s services have a far-reaching impact. Children who get needed medical care miss less school and grow up to be more productive adults. Mothers who receive proper prenatal care have healthier babies. Parents of sick children miss less work when they can count on Kid One. I’m thrilled that the law school and the University are able to assist Kid One in this worthwhile project.”

Kid One’s services are essential in Alabama, one of only a handful of states that provides no state funding for public transportation. Studies indicate that 700,000 Alabamians live without a car and that one in every 14 rural homes has no car. As a result, many sick children miss medical care and appointments simply due to lack of transportation.

Through the support of Kid One, children throughout the state receive medical care that can cure their illnesses or prolong their lives; children’s school attendance improves; expectant mothers and unborn children have healthier pregnancies; parents are able to maintain employment without the disruption of efforts to get the sick child to treatment; and families suffer less guilt and stress.

“As a public university, we have a responsibility to serve the citizens of our state, not only through educational programs, but also through research and service. This partnership [with Kid One] is a prime example of the University’s outreach efforts,” said UA President Robert E. Witt.

Witt commended Sen. Richard Shelby for his assistance in obtaining the federal funds. “This represents another significant commitment by Senator Shelby to improve the quality of life and economic development in West Alabama,” he said.

The Department of Transportation funding is a matching grant, meaning that Kid One is raising funds to match by the federal dollars. UA students kicked off that fund-raising effort with a donation of $45,000 from Greek Links, a fund-raising campaign supported by the University’s fraternities and sororities. Now in its second year, Greek Links raises funds for a variety of charities.

Kid One Transport System was founded in 1997 by former Hoover firefighter Russell Jackson to assist the thousands of Alabama children diagnosed with various illnesses, some life-threatening, who were forced to forego medical care simply because their families had little to no means of transportation. Since that time, Kid One has provided rides to and from medical care for more than 4,000 children and expectant mothers. Kid One serves 27 Alabama counties; however, most of its services are in the Birmingham area. The new funding will allow Kid One to greatly increase its services in West Alabama.

ADAP is a federally mandated, statewide “Protection and Advocacy” program serving individuals with disabilities in Alabama. Based at UA’s School of Law, the program provides legally based advocacy services to persons with disabilities.