LWCC began as Thriving Communities Commerce City in 2006 after a six-month planning period funded by Kaiser Permanente. Historic Commerce City was ready to take on the endeavor, and diverse partners were ready for collaboration. The city government and school district were active partners from the inception. The expansive partnership brings individual schools, school district administrators, police and fire departments, universities, elected officials and community organizations to the table. Residents are engaged through community-driven strategies and outreach led by the bilingual outreach specialists at Community Enterprise.
The initial Thriving Communities Commerce City action plan included many separate projects that were not well integrated, and each project had a small amount of funding attached. During 2006 and 2007, there was a strategic change in project coordination. Strategies were consolidated, and goals were better aligned across sectors. At our annual planning retreat in September 2008, partners continued the challenging work of integrating goals across sectors and the socio-ecological framework. In 2008, our key word became integration, and partners are being challenged to think outside of their area of expertise and create opportunities for non traditional collaboration. Today, LWCC is more targeted with a cross sector, community wide focus.
From 2005 until 2008, the lead agency was Tri-County Health Department (TCHD), with representatives participating from the divisions of Environmental Health, Nutrition and Epidemiology, Planning and Communication. In 2008, LWCC changed the fiscal agent from TCHD to Partnerships for Healthy Communities (P4HC), a local nonprofit organization that had been actively involved since the planning phase. P4HC has a long history of partnership building in Adams County and Commerce City. P4HC builds teams that improve access to health care for all, and its partners share a commitment to social justice and reducing health disparities. P4HC works to improve the health of underserved, low-income families and to change the health care paradigm to one of prevention. P4HC provides leadership on community-based participatory development and research. LWCC already had a strong relationship with P4HC, implementing their nutrition-literacy curriculum How to Eat Smart and Be Smart for families with preschool and elementary children and teen parents. Colleagues in the divisions of Nutrition and Environmental Health at TCHD continue to be actively involved on the Steering Committee, in the community and continue to help shape the future of LWCC.
The LWCC team has struck upon a balance of effective and promising programs, policies and environmental changes. The programs like Operation Frontline, How to Eat Smart and Be Smart, and the Wonderful Outdoor World reinforce LWCC policy and environmental changes and help us develop a cadre of residents who will advocate for HEAL policies in city government, the school district and community organizations.
Operation Frontline cooking courses have the backing of research and have proven that healthy eating and shopping behaviors are sustained after six months. How to Eat Smart and Be Smart is a promising program that incorporates nutrition and literacy education for low-income families and leads to policy changes within partner organization. Wonderful Outdoor World Colorado provides children the opportunity to tackle the great outdoors and learn to be healthy, active and responsible citizens.
LWCC has evolved from Thriving Communities Commerce City and has adapted to the needs of the community through a new fiscal agent in P4HC. Through the changes, LWCC partners remain dedicated to our mission: to empower a partnership of people who live, work and play in historic Commerce City to flourish through a lifetime of healthy eating and active living.
Partnerships for Healthy Communities
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