Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have been awarded a $10,000 grant to create an app that promotes total wellness and healthy living habits in Arkansas students.

The grant comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after UAMS was selected one of 10 winners nationally in the Using Technology to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Low-Income Families and Communities Challenge.

“This award gives us the ability to enhance what we’re already doing to teach students about living a healthy lifestyle at an early age and combat some problems down the road,” said Alan Faulkner, program manager for the UAMS Centers for Distance Health.

The app will serve as a portal to HealthyNOW, a web-based effort to deliver exercise videos and nutritional counseling to students. Additionally, researchers want to include games and rewards to make the app more fun to use. They also want it to give students a direct link to fitness and nutrition experts through the UAMS Dietetics program and its HealthyNOW partner, the University of Central Arkansas’ Exercise Science program.

“This app will provide an additional platform for students to be able to use what we’re already doing in four school districts, with the intention of eventually being broadened to any student in Arkansas who wants to participate in the challenges giving them easy access regardless of where they live,” said Tina Pilgreen, education outreach coordinator.

HealthyNOW is part of the School Telemedicine in Arkansas (STAR) program, which began in 2016 with a $1.2 million grant from the HRSA. It was launched to combat health disparities in four rural Arkansas school districts: Magazine, Lamar, Jasper and Malvern. The first year of the STAR grant focused on behavioral health and was designed to provide on-the-spot care for students in need of annual assessments and medication management using real-time video conferencing. In the current school year, STAR launched a teledentistry program in the four school districts.

To find out more about the UAMS Center for Distance Health and the STAR program, visit

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.