Community Outreach for At-Risk Children

What if Hmong children became heart-healthy ambassadors to their families by their receptivity to a children's book character?

Photo of Ken Korber
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I am the published author of The Musical Adventures of Grace and a retired cardiology Physician Assistant. I have formed The Healthy Music Project that brings together other authors to create "collaborative storybooks" where the storybook's character(s) become champions for young children's awareness of healthy living behaviors.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website Launching july 1, 2016

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Arlington Heights

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Illinois

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Chicago and Appleton WI

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Outreach to early childhood development centers and supply teachers with reading resources and music immersion curricular tools heretofore not available or utilized.
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Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Do storybook characters influence a 6- and 7-year olds awareness of heart-healthy choices that, in turn, optimize their health? Compared to a matched control group who has not had the experience, YES. We introduced "Melody" as a aspiring chef-friend to Grace (the main character in the 4-book series The Musical Adventures of Grace"). Melody uses salt-substitute ethnic ingredients for DASH diet promotions; to children at-risk for premature hypertension. Another example is having Maestro Vik encourage 2-minute tooth-brushing behavior.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Future Impact -- other language translations and other therapeutic areas for pediatric intervention...

Organization Type

  • hybrid

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Grant support and retail purchases of the books

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

1. This is the first time a children's book series has musically-themed stories AND intrument-wielding characters. 2. This is the first time a children's book series (and its characters) are embedded within an active community outreach effort that provides reading skills AND healthy behavior messages.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Provifing resources to children that are "relatable" to their perspective of the world in shich they live.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)


Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)



Join the conversation:

Photo of Lacy Stephens

Hi Ken, 
Congratulations on the expansion of your project. It sounds like you are pulling together many important components that contribute to child wellbeing (messages of health and wellness, increased literacy, music and the arts, cultural relevance and self efficacy). I would like to better understand the specific problem you aim to address with the series and a bit more specifically what the actual approach and components of the project are. Is this project focused on expanding the library of titles available, or focused on expanded distribution? I would also love to hear more about how you are integrating culturally relevant components? Are you working with Hmong families or organizations? In a future revisions I might suggest further expanding on these topics. Congratulations again on your important work.
Best wishes,
Lacy Stephens 

Photo of Ken Korber

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