Much of what influences an individual’s health happens in their community. Safety, access to healthy foods, space for physical activity and social support—from family and friends—all contribute to our health. Even so, many children are growing up in communities with numerous barriers to healthy living.

To better understand and improve the connection between health and community, GlaxoSmithKline is partnering with LiveWell Colorado and a network of other nonprofits through an initiative called the “Youth Driven Healthy Recreation Centers Collective” (The Collective) to build a healthier Denver through healthy eating and active living programming for children. Denver was chosen because while it is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest cities in the United States, it does have areas of concern particularly in the area of childhood obesity, especially in the neighborhoods which are the focus of this project: Globeville, Elyria-Swansea and Northeast Denver.

lwc_gsk_interior2_20140905-1The GSK funded members of The Collective are:

  • LiveWell Colorado
  • Share Our Strength Cooking Matters Colorado
  • Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver
  • LiveWell Northeast Denver
  • Globeville Elyria-Swansea LiveWell
  • Earth Force
  • The Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation
  • Spark Policy Institute

The Collective also recognizes that this work is long-term, and will require partnership beyond its funded members. The Steering Committee of The Collective includes Denver Parks and Recreation Department and MY Denver, both of which will be integral to the short- and long-term success of this work.

The Collective is now halfway through its 18-month program to foster youth-led solutions to childhood obesity.

In May 2015, its success will be measured against:

  • The formation of three youth steering committees;
  • At least 50 youth involved in the evidence-based programming from Cooking Matters Colorado and a six-step youth leadership development process led by Earth Force;
  • A 15 percent increase of overall youth participation in the neighborhood recreation centers; and
  • Creation of a sustainable model for youth engagement with the Denver Parks and Recreation Department.

We are excited to come together on Thursday, Sept. 18 with community members to celebrate the successes of The Collective to date and share ways to be involved in the future. Denver City Council members Albus Brooks and Judy Montero and Parks and Recreation Director of Recreation, Thomas Herndon III will speak, along with youth involved in the initiative who will be presenting their work to date and the challenges they face to eat healthy and be physically active in their neighborhoods and in the recreation centers.