First Lady Beshear is committed to combating breast cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Kentucky. In 2008, she founded Horses and Hope with the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP). Horses and Hope provides breast cancer education, screening and treatment referral for the often overlooked members of Kentucky's horse industry and their families. Special events are also held in collaboration with equestrian organizations to honor breast cancer survivors and to raise breast cancer awareness. To date, Horses and Hope has educated over 280,000 horse show and race track fans and has screened more than 350 equine workers. For more information, visit www.horsesandhope.org.
The Celebration of Hope is an annual gathering of survivors and advocates that was initiated by former First Lady Judi Patton. The event has developed into a celebration of survivorship that attracts nationally-known figures, as well as an opportunity to educate Kentucky's women about breast cancer awareness.
Graduate Kentucky is a statewide initiative that was formed in 2008 to tackle the dropout problem in the Commonwealth, which is a major concern of Mrs. Beshear's. Focusing on drop-out prevention and increasing graduation rates in Kentucky public schools, this program ensures that students of all ages are given every opportunity to succeed. Schools across the state have worked with the First Lady to host Graduate Kentucky summits, where dedicated supporters of education have gathered to bring attention and solutions to the drop-out crisis in Kentucky. An action plan based on findings and recommendations from the summits is being developed to provide guidance for policy-makers, educators and the business community. Mrs. Beshear has also pushed for legislation increasing the drop-out age for Kentucky students from 16 to 18 years of age. www.graduate.ky.gov.
Kentucky's First Lady has taken steps to make the Executive Mansion more eco-friendly and encourages homes, schools and businesses to do the same through the Green Team program. Green Team strives to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental preservation. In events across the state and on the Green Team website, Mrs. Beshear highlights many low-cost measures and simple practices that have been implemented at the Governor's Mansion. These steps will lower utility costs as well as reduce our impact on the environment. She has succeeded at reducing energy consumption at the Mansion by 15 percent and plans on achieving a reduction of 30 percent by the end of 2014. For ideas on how to make your home more energy efficient, go to www.greenteam.ky.gov.
The First Lady launched the first Governor's Garden in 2009 in Frankfort to promote awareness about the benefits of locally grown produce and reducing the carbon footprint. There are currently seven locations across the Commonwealth. As part of the Green Team program, the garden teaches students and members of the community how to develop and grow a primary source of sustainable, healthy food. The majority of the produce raised in the Governor's Gardens is donated to soup kitchens. http://greenteam.ky.gov/garden
The First Lady has been working to boost tourism and support economic development by promoting Kentucky as an ideal destination for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, off-road vehicle activities, hunting and fishing, along with other outdoor sports. With 52 state parks, hundreds of camping sites, horse trails and hiking trails, thousands of miles of rivers and more than 50 fishing and boating lakes, the Commonwealth has a wealth of activities available based on our natural resources. Bipartisan support led to an adventure tourism bill, Senate Bill 196, to pass the 2008 legislative session, which has helped support these efforts. To find your ideal destination, visit www.kyunbridledadventure.com.
Mrs. Beshear began this annual drive in 2008 to provide domestic violence shelters with needed goods, such as canned foods, toilet paper and soap at Kroger stores across the state. The goods benefit Kentucky Domestic Violence Association shelters. This program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding and goods for domestic violence shelters. Click here for more.
Each season, the First Lady releases a top 10 reading list for students with recommended books that fit a variety of age ranges. Mrs. Beshear encourages students to read for pleasure, as young people who enjoy reading and learning are more likely to be engaged and successful in the classroom. Mrs. Beshear also serves as a Scholastic Reading Ambassador – in this capacity she encourages students to read during the summer months and donates 500 Scholastic books every Spring to two elementary/middle schools in need of new books for their libraries.
During the special session in the summer of 2009, Mrs. Beshear testified in support of House Bill 3, which approved tax incentives for films. The legislation passed, and has subsequently increased film companies' interest in the Commonwealth. As a result of the incentives, Disney expanded shooting of the film Secretariat to several weeks in Kentucky. The Kentucky Film Office is currently working with other production companies that have expressed interest in filming in the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit www.kyfilmoffice.com.