Where Health is Happening in Colorado

The latest Data Spotlight of the 2016 Colorado Health Report Card shines a light on some of the everyday issues that play a big role in shaping health.

Where Health Happens: Health Begins Where Coloradans Live, Learn, Work and Play explores how Colorado fares in five social determinants of health – education and child care, financial security and safety, food access, housing, and transportation. These factors are a foundation for individuals, families and communities to build healthy lives and environments.

The Colorado Health Institute partners with the Colorado Health Foundation on its Health Report Card project, including the Data Spotlights.

This newest Data Spotlight reveals that Colorado is on shaky ground in many of areas, with some communities struggling more than others. Here’s one example: 

Access to fresh food is a must for good health, yet one of seven Coloradans – including one of five children – are unable to afford healthy, adequate meals. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has been helping people with lower incomes purchase groceries since 1964. Yet 43 percent of Coloradans who are eligible for SNAP aren’t enrolled. In more than half of Colorado counties that rate is 50 percent or higher. 

               

Where Health Happens goes beyond the data, highlighting innovative policies and programs that Colorado are implementing to make a difference. Legislators passed a bill just this year to strengthen SNAP, in the hopes that improving its efficiency will lead to more Coloradans getting the help they need.

It also showcases three communities in action – an industrial neighborhood in Denver where fresh foods are sprouting up, the southeast Colorado town of Walsenburg making their roads more walking and bicycle-friendly and a low-income housing development in Denver transforming into a vibrant, healthful home for its residents. My colleague Joe Hanel wrote these stories.

Here’s what Joe saw while visiting The GrowHaus, in the Elylria-Swansea neighborhood of Denver, and its water-efficient farm that is bringing affordable, fresh foods to local residents.

                growhaus

It was great to lead this project. Brian Clark, Manager of Creative Services, created the awesome infographics. Chrissy Esposito, our data visualization and storytelling intern, made the maps. And several CHI’ers contributed analysis and writing, including Allie Morgan, Emily Johnson and Deb Goeken.

The Colorado Health Report Card shows how well Colorado is doing on its path to becoming the healthiest state in the nation. This Data Spotlight shows that health is about much more than health care and that we all have a role to play in improving health – teachers and transportation providers, builders and businesspeople. 

Sara Schmitt is the director of community health policy at CHI.