LiveWell’s 10th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on our past, and to review and analyze our work to understand how we have evolved into the organization we are today. The following are 10 short-term campaigns and programs LiveWell implemented to raise awareness about our organization’s work and to provide education about health-related issues. Each effort provided valuable insight, which guided our transition from a focus on education and personal awareness to removing barriers to healthy eating and active living through policy and systemic change.
1. Food for Thought
Food for Thought engaged youth from across Colorado to increase students’ knowledge about healthy eating, change their eating behaviors, and inspire youth advocacy. Students who were involved in the program each had an advocacy project including writing letters to local elected officials about challenges to healthy eating in their community and how these challenges could be addressed. “It is equally important to teach students about our food system as it is to educate them on the nutrients contained in their food, because the super-ultra-processed food environment they are exposed to can have a significant long-term impact on their health,” said Cathy Schmelter, President/Founder, An Ounce of Nutrition. “Our ultimate goal is to inspire students to become part of the movement to change this in order to create a healthier and more just food system for us all!”
2. Viva Streets
Viva Streets were day-long celebrations presented in partnership by LiveWell and Bike Denver in 2011, 2012, and 2013. During the event, several streets were temporarily closed to automobiles and opened for walkers, bikers, runners, strollers, dancers, paraders, musicians, and healthy food purveyors. Modeled after Colombian Cyclovias, Viva Streets was held in Denver’s Park Hill and Highlands neighborhoods. The events were a tribute to the power of our city’s streets as a way to get people moving, bring neighbors together, and strengthen Colorado’s healthy, active culture. According to Piep van Heuven, former Executive Director of Bike Denver, “Viva Streets was the first step in changing the way that residents, and the city of Denver, think about streets. It showed that streets are for people, not just cars. The event also demonstrated to Denver elected officials that active transportation is important.”
EatWell@School was a LiveWell program that offered low-income students from Denver Public Schools high schools the opportunity to work with volunteer chef mentors and culinary students from Johnson & Wales University. Through this unique partnership, students learned a variety of culinary skills including how to develop a nutritious meal plan, managing a cooking budget and healthy food sourcing, and the importance of leadership and teamwork. With these new skills, students were tasked with creating a school lunch that fulfilled USDA nutrition requirements, and also met specific costs, criteria, and that sourced at least one ingredient grown, baked, or produced in Colorado. According to the criteria, each lunch had to cost under $0.90 to prepare. This seven-week program culminated in a competition during which each school team prepared and served a complete school lunch that was judged by a panel of local health and culinary experts. The winning meal was served at LiveWell’s annual “Engage in the Change” fundraising luncheon and provided the students from the winning team the opportunity to speak about the value the program brought to them individually, as well as to their school. Jose Martinez-Castellanos, graduate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College and former EatWell participant noted that “EatWell@School was an amazing experience that gave me leadership skills, built my confidence, and also made me a great chef!” Jose is now using these skills as a Student and Family Liaison to MLK Early College for the organization Generation Teach.
4. LiveWell Moms
Research shows that moms are the key decision-makers regarding meal planning and kids’ activities in households. In response, LiveWell launched the LiveWell Moms Cultural Change Campaign in 2011. Using mass media, social media, and events, LiveWell connected with moms across the state to educate them about the connection between healthy eating and physical activity and other health risks impacting themselves and their families. The campaign motivated participants to embrace healthier behaviors and encouraged them to share the message with friends and family. LiveWell transformed many LiveWell Moms into healthy eating and active living ambassadors within their communities and schools. Alli Howe signed onto the program early. “The LiveWell Mom Initiative ignited my confidence to write online about making small health-related changes in home environments. I wanted every mother to know she was powerful and could build lifelong healthy habits. The mentoring provided by LiveWell staff helped me gain momentum for writing about school policy changes around healthy snacking and celebrations.” Even though the LiveWell Moms initiative has ended, Alli has continued to engage with LiveWell in our policy and advocacy efforts as well as our School Food Initiative.
5. No More 24
Colorado ranks 24th in the country for physical activity of children and one in 25 Colorado kids are overweight or obese. These facts led LiveWell to launch the No More 24 campaign in 2016. Recognizing that it would take a community effort to change policies and practices to provide Colorado kids with more opportunities for physical activity, the Campaign’s goal was to raise awareness about the lack of physical activity opportunities for Colorado kids and to build a grassroots coalition of concerned and engaged residents. Through the campaign, LiveWell had residents sign up to “take the pledge” to help improve access to healthy living for Colorado kids. Our involvement in this campaign prompted LiveWell to consider, with regard to changing policy, how we amplify the voices of those most affected.
6. GlaxoSmithKline GSK
The Youth-Driven Healthy Recreation Centers Collective (The Collective) brought together partners throughout Denver and involved young people ages 12-18. The goal was to create solutions to make their communities healthier, increase physical activity and healthy eating, and develop youth leadership in the Globeville and Elyria/Swansea neighborhoods. LiveWell Colorado convened a coalition of youth; nonprofits, including Boys & Girls Club and Earth Force; resident-led groups in the neighborhoods; and Denver Parks and Recreation. Together their leaders sought to improve the quality and relevance of the neighborhood recreation centers from the perspective of youth in the affected areas. The 18-month initiative resulted in participant, policy, and environmental improvements in the three neighborhood recreation centers, and drastically improved use of the recreation centers (including one that experienced a 1000% increase).
7. Go Slow Whoa
Go, Slow, Whoa is a nutrition education program designed to motivate elementary school kids and their families to make healthy choices. (GO Foods—Eat anytime; SLOW Foods—Eat sometimes; WHOA Foods—Eat only once in a while or for special occasions.) Developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to help kids identify healthy foods, the program has been used by schools and community organizations to educate students and equip them as advocates in their own homes, incorporating more Go foods into family meals. LiveWell adopted the program and created a toolkit containing messaging and communications tools for school principals and teachers to use in classrooms and lunchrooms. Educational videos were also available to support schools and community partners interested in implementing the program. In Routt County, the Go, Slow, Whoa program turned cafeterias into classrooms. To reinforce what children were seeing in school, monthly articles were run in the newspaper and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation jumped on board creating a green skier logo to identify healthy choices on their restaurant menus. Barb Parnell, former LiveWell Northwest Colorado Community Coordinator, shared that cafeterias have become learning laboratories and over the years. She has heard many stories of children educating their parents about Go, Slow, Whoa.
8. Community Health Organizers
In 2012, LiveWell Colorado piloted a concept called Community Health Organizers (CHO), modeled after promotores de salud and community health worker programs. To further our mission of removing barriers to healthy eating and active living for low-income and communities of color, CHOs were trained in community organizing techniques to connect with and educate people in their own communities. Approaches included one‐on‐one conversations, small group discussions, large monthly meetings, presentations at third‐party staff meetings and other community events. Through outreach, CHOs and community members identified key HEAL issues for the community to mobilize around. Communities then designed and implemented programs based on community input. Rebecca Rice, a Chaffee County CHO stated, “The Community Health Organizer project, which we were grateful to participate in, helped establish CHO’s as relevant and local ‘connectors’ to existing community resources while helping us identify our HEAL strengths and gaps. The emphasis on relationship-building and evaluating our assets have been building blocks for further HEAL activities and grassroots partnerships.”
9. Day at the Capitol
LiveWell’s annual Day at the Capitol was one of our successful efforts to provide LiveWell supporters with a forum to speak to their legislators. Over the years, the event evolved from being one at which we challenged lawmakers and Capitol staff to engage in healthy behaviors, to offering an opportunity for LiveWell partners to engage in one-on-one conversations with legislators, build relationships between LiveWell advocates and legislators, and recognize outstanding legislators who were champions for access to healthy eating and active living. Liza Marron, Executive Director of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition who attended every Day at the Capitol event stated, “LiveWell’s Day at the Capitol forced our rural community leaders out of their comfort zone and into the lawmaking house. The relationships that have been created on both sides of the aisle within the Colorado House and Senate have been invaluable for moving policy forward that is good for rural agriculture. Great legislation like the Colorado Cottage Foods Bill and the tax credit for farm product donations to nonprofits exist because of these advocacy experiences.”
10. Get Movin’ Challenge
In 2013, in partnership with Governor John Hickenlooper, LiveWell Colorado launched the Get Movin’ Challenge. This interactive, online program encouraged Coloradans to be healthier by engaging in physical activity for 30 minutes every day for 30 days. While the original goal was to have 2,000 participants, over 5,000 people accepted the challenge the first year. This success was great in building a movement to make Colorado the most active state in the nation. The challenge also raised awareness about LiveWell and the importance of regular physical activity. In 2014, we added a municipal challenge and encouraged cities and towns across the state to compete against each other for the Most Movin’ award. This helped increase participation by over 1,000 people. The town of Elizabeth won the Most Movin’ award (based on the percentage of the population that participated in the challenge).