LiveWell Prowers County Recognized as a National Health Impact Award Finalist
Partnership for Healthier America chooses Colorado organization as an Impact Award Finalist
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Impact Award is an annual recognition presented to a community group or an individual who has sparked change at the community level to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.
“Being recognized as a finalist for the Partnership for Healthier America Impact Award helps us celebrate our past success and energizes our continued work to ensure every child in Prowers County grows up healthy,” said Emily Nieschburg, community coordinator for LiveWell Prowers County. “This sends yet another affirming signal that partnerships are powerful and community-led changes have lasting impact,” added Nieschburg.
Founded in 2010, the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. PHA was created in conjunction with—but independent from—First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity.
“LiveWell Colorado believes all Coloradans, regardless of zip code, deserve the opportunity to live healthy lives. Our work is focused on empowering underserved communities to define what a vibrant, healthy community means to them, and then advocate for the policy and environmental changes that will remove barriers to that reality,” said Gabriel Guillaume, LiveWell Colorado’s executive vice president of local initiatives and strategy. “LiveWell Prowers County demonstrates what it means to listen to a community’s needs first and then put into place actions that truly makes a difference.”
The Impact for Change Awardee must show measurable impact and outcomes with a focus on the populations disproportionately impacted by obesity, collaborate with other organizations to create a greater impact, or use an innovative approach to help end childhood obesity.
LiveWell Prowers County has faced tremendous challenges that impact the health of children and families living in their community. Prowers County adult obesity and physical inactivity rates are higher than the state level according to County Health Rankings. Almost twice as many children in Prowers County are living in poverty (30 percent) compared to children living in poverty across Colorado.
Prowers County joined the LiveWell Colorado Community Partnerships program in 2007, and in the past few years the community has begun to experience a transformation. While Prowers County was fortunate to have some recreational offerings including an outdoor pool, a large park and community recreation center, the facilities were not necessarily accessible to community members most impacted by health disparities. By designing opportunities to better understand barriers to health in their community, Prowers County began to uncover the many definitions of accessibility and the multi-dimensional challenges that exist. Distance, cost, and language barriers are just a few of the factors that impacted accessibility to these recreational facilities.
“We’ve discovered that our community is hungry for change,” said Nieschburg. “Our adults and kids are ready to put the work in and help build a community that we’re proud to call our home. We’re empowering people to take charge and make their community better,” Nieschburg added.
The transformation in this community started with the building of a KaBoom! playground in 2013. Youth played a critical role in revitalizing an underused park in desperate need of new life and play equipment. More than 300 residents, young and old, helped build the playground in a single day. This park is now visited by hundreds of kids and families and has served as a model for creating change in Lamar.
“When we started our LiveWell journey in Prowers County I believed then and now believe even more so that advocacy is strongest and most successful when it comes from the people,” said Jackie Brown, RN, MSN, APN, Southeast Health Group integrated care director. “Prowers County LiveWell is truly an organization of collective impact, of the people and by the people. It represents community members who believe we can do better and have invested themselves in making it happen,” added Brown.
This community momentum led to an investment in 2013 from the Colorado Health Foundation for the Lamar Healthy Places initiative, which aims to foster a built environment where it is easier, safer and more appealing to walk, play and engage in daily activities that encourage movement, connection and fun. In the first year of this three-year investment, the community completed the Lamar Parks, Trails and Recreation Master Plan. The community engaged youth in this process by providing them with digital cameras to document what makes it both easy and difficult to live well in Lamar.
The Partnership for Healthier America Impact Award Winners will be announced at the PHA Gala in November. For more information about PHA, please visit www.ahealthieramerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.