UAB’s Grand Challenge + how local leaders are forging the future

Photo via @exploreuab on Instagram

UAB has been a leader in community initiatives and now they’re taking on the Grand Challenge. Let’s take a look at this groundbreaking program, what issues leaders will be tackling and how a local service club is lending a helping hand.

What is the Grand Challenge?

Problems call for solutions. No matter how complex or simple the issue at hand appears, there’s always room for improvement through innovation, policy, treatments and other methods.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is known as an institution that is constantly problem-solving. Their Grand Challenge Program is designed to spotlight the talent coming from the campus as well as from the communities around it in order to help solve complex societal issues.

UAB’s Grand Challenge is part of their “Forging the Future” strategic plan—a five-year initiative to create an environment that encourages new ideas and perspectives in the classroom, laboratories, studios and clinics.

In 2018, there was a large call for action—one that puts Birmingham on the path to become a healthier city. After a two-day workshop with more than 200 universities and community participants, six teams were formed to put in the work needed to move toward their goal.

Each team has their own goal for the city of Birmingham, so let’s meet the faces behind these projects and what subjects they’ll be tackling.

Meet the game changers + their goal for Birmingham communities

Mona Fouad, M.D. and team will be focusing on transforming the health of all Alabamians

Photo via uab.edu

Karen Cropsey and team want to prevent opioid overdoes deaths

Photo via uab.edu

Ilias Perakis and team want to grow Birmingham into the “Silicon Valley of the South”

Photo via uab.edu

Virginia Howard, The Alabama HOPE Project and team want to change communities through longer, better lives

Photo via uab.edu

Jacqueline Moss, Eric Wallace and team want to improve access to health care through telehealth

Photo via uab.edu

Nasim Uddin and team want to make Birmingham a model city for solving complex issues

Photo via uab.edu

Meet the local club that’s making moves to help with the Grand Challenge

It’s no secret that UAB has a plethora of amazing initiatives going on and sometimes great things like the Grand Challenge can get lost among all of the institution’s other accomplishments. Luckily, Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club brought it to Bham Now’s attention—and turns out they’ve been hard at work with the Grand Challenge.

A little bit about the Sunrise Rotary Club + what they do

Teamwork makes the dream work. Photo via the Sunrise Rotary Club

Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club puts service above self. This chapter is part of the world’s first service club organization with more than a million members around the globe. They work locally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation conditions, provide education as well as job training, promote peace and even help eradicate polio.

If this sounds like something that’s right up your alley, you can learn more and maybe even join if you’d like.

Breaking ground on the first project of the Grand Challenge

Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club puts service above self. Photo via the Sunrise Rotary Club

It only makes sense for a service club to get involved with initiatives like the Grand Challenge and that’s exactly what the Sunrise Rotary Club did.

“Rotary Sunrise of Birmingham has a desire to do meaningful, impactful work in improving parks and greening our great city and there is no nobler task in Birmingham than to assist UAB in this Grand Challenge work.”

Austin Wade Creel, member of Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

They took the lead by getting involved with UAB and breaking ground on the first project of the Grand Challenge to plant trees in Titusville. You’re probably wondering about the significance of this, but it’s initiatives like this that are the perfect head start to empowering a community.

Austin from the Sunrise Rotary Club explained it perfectly. When you plant trees, of course, you bring some extra shade, mitigate rain runoff and bring an aesthetic appeal. This in turn will hopefully encourage more walking within the community which is an important step to the overall goal of making Alabamaians healthier.

Initiatives like these are the first step to solving the Grand Challenge. Photo via the Sunrise Rotary Club

It’s projects like these that bring necessary attention to improving our communities. Austin hopes this will create a ripple effect to re-energize efforts in helping redevelop neighborhoods like Titusville.

“With our donations and labor to the November 7th tree planting workday, we effectively broke ground on the first project of UAB’s Grand Challenge in North Titusville, and we are hoping to continue funding and provide volunteer work days for the multiple projects that are ahead for the UAB Grand Challenge.”

Austin Wade Creel, member of Birmingham’s Sunrise Rotary Club

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  • Chaise is a brunch-loving Content Producer and helps manage the Bham Now Instagram account.