From launching the Double Up Food Bucks program to increase access to fruits and vegetables for Coloradans who receive SNAP (food stamps) benefits, to our statewide #NoMore24 campaign that recruited grassroots advocates from across the state to fight for childhood physical activity, 2016 was an important year for LiveWell and our efforts to remove barriers to healthy eating and active living for all Coloradans.
But for all our successes in 2016, we know that we still have work to do to improve the health of all Coloradans. In order to truly realize our mission of removing barriers to healthy eating and active living, LiveWell must focus its efforts on the populations most affected by health disparities. For instance, we know that in Denver, life expectancy can vary by more than a decade in different neighborhoods. LiveWell Colorado believes a person’s health outcomes should not be determined by race, socio-economic status, or zip code. In 2017, LiveWell will fully commit its efforts to address health disparities caused by racism, poverty, and place.
Health equity work requires commitment, perseverance, humility, a willingness to learn, and an acknowledgement that this work can and will be difficult. Over the course of the last year, LiveWell Colorado has struggled to identify our role in a broader social justice movement, but we have made great strides towards centering our work on the populations most affected by health disparities.
In the fall of 2015, we formed a health equity committee to begin to integrate a health equity focus into all aspects of our work, increase the capacity of our staff to address these issues, and evaluate our ability to create meaningful change in Colorado. In 2017, our staff and board will engage in learning to better understand our individual biases as well as how structural and interpersonal racism, poverty, and other social determinants of heath create barriers for communities in Colorado to access healthy food and opportunities to be physically active. Our two primary goals are to raise awareness among our staff and board and to use these learning opportunities to reflect on our current work and adapt our practices accordingly.
While I am confident in the capacity and skillsets of LiveWell’s staff and board, it is important to continuously and courageously challenge ourselves in order to tackle systemic issues influencing the health of so many Coloradans. And too much is at stake for us to stop and learn while disparities persist. Instead, our trainings and professional development will continue to inform how we get better and how we apply a health equity lens to all of our work. We are fully committed to integrating our health equity values and the knowledge we gain into actions that create long-lasting change in Colorado communities.
As a result of the work of the health equity committee, as well as the support and knowledge of the entire LiveWell staff and board, I believe LiveWell is better positioned than ever before to challenge systems that prevent Coloradans from living healthy lives and to empower communities to create change for their residents.
We also recognize that many of our partners are on a similar health equity journey. We will continue to share our health equity learnings and reflections, the changes that we are making as a result, and even our struggles along the way.
Thank you for your partnership with us in this work.
President and CEO