Garfield County, in northwestern Colorado, is the first community to receive the Governor’s Healthy Community Award presented by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and LiveWell Colorado. Representatives of Garfield County were honored last week at LiveWell’s 2017 Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Summit for their work pursuing community wellness, while impacting economic vitality.
In it’s inaugural year, the Governor’s Healthy Community Award is part of the OEDIT statewide initiative, “For Colorado: For the Health of It!, focused on integrating health and wellness into the places Coloradans live, work and play. OEDIT partnered with LiveWell Colorado’s HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign to highlight a community that is working in all sectors to encourage healthy living across community support networks. As this year’s winner, Garfield County will receive $2,000, contributed by Rocky Mountain Health Plans, to further enhance its community wellness efforts.
Garfield County, a rural county made up of six municipalities, was selected as the 2017 award-winning community for its focus on disease prevention, through healthy eating, active living and health equity. The county embraced health and wellness as an economic driver, by creating a cultural demand for healthy lifestyles, supporting local farmers, and expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure – especially in areas with limited public transit and poor connectivity.
“Providing equal access to healthy eating, active living and workplace wellness to all Coloradans is important for our communities and to our economy,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “The leadership and residents of Garfield County have worked hard to develop a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses health disparities and leverages partnerships to reach their entire community. I am thrilled to congratulate Garfield County as the winner of the 2017 Healthy Community Award!”
In an effort to equalize health disparities, often caused by long commutes, necessity of working multiple jobs and the high cost of health insurance, Garfield County worked with dozens of organizations and nonprofits to provide resources and break down barriers so all residents have full and equal access to healthy lifestyle options that also support the local economy.
“Our strong community collaboration across school districts, hospitals, businesses, public safety, education, public health and nonprofits drive us to overcome health barriers to reach our goals and better our community,” stated Dana Wood, Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition coordinator.
The county worked with Cultivando, a leadership and advocacy group from Commerce City, CO, to offer a leadership program in Spanish to train bilingual public health workers in February, 2017. Cultivando also conducted an additional four-day leadership training in September, 2017 for 25 Hispanic women in the community. During the training, women learned how to help empower each other, the basics of healthy living, and how to take control of their health and the health of their families.
Other health interventions made in Garfield County assisted families with children, including policy changes in school districts and a mobile school lunch program that provides nutritious foods and fresh fruits and vegetables to schools with high free and reduced lunch populations.
“Garfield County’s health efforts have shifted to an offensive approach by motivating people to change their lifestyles for the better. This influences a healthier workforce and healthier education system, which contributes to a healthier community”, Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Commissioner, noted, regarding the positive impact of community health efforts can have on economic vitality.
Rocky Mountain Health Plans sponsored the award’s monetary prize in support of its mission to improve the health and well-being of its Colorado neighbors and communities. RMHP offers health insurance coverage to individuals of all ages and businesses of all sizes, serving over 230,000 individuals, seniors, employers, and Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) beneficiaries.
For Colorado: For the Health of It! Initiative
OEDIT is fueling the For Colorado: For the Health of It! Initiative with the mission to cultivate a culture of health and well-being in small businesses and communities to enhance economic vitality statewide by providing free health and wellness consultation; awarding a healthy community and small business; and exploring the development of a statewide wellness council. Colorado Small Business Development Center (COSBDC) is a stakeholder organization within OEDIT implementing the free health and wellness consultation statewide.