Kayla Arnesen 720.898.5919
Long before you have surgery or go to the emergency room, an array of societal factors influences your well-being.
Jefferson County faces the same health challenges as communities across the country, but what’s behind these challenges may be more than you expect. In 2016, leaders in Jefferson County are making a big push to determine and address the root causes of poor health in our community.
“It’s like going upstream,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, executive director of Jefferson County Public Health and chair of the Child and Youth Leadership Commission (CYLC). “You find things like housing, poverty, education and the ability to get a job have a huge impact on your long-term mental, social and physical health.”
So what can be done in Jefferson County to ensure these societal factors, or “social determinants of health,” impact us for the better?
This is the question Jefferson County CYLC, with support from Arvada-based Community First Foundation, set out to answer in 2016.
In February, CYLC received funding from Community First Foundation to bring together all of the entities in Jefferson County currently assessing or addressing the health of Jeffco communities. By forming a group to work together to identify successes, gaps, silos and barriers in the community, a comprehensive strategic plan for Jefferson County will emerge. This group became a reality in May with the formation of Jeffco Thrives.
“We want to create new and unusual partnerships,” said Cheryl Haggstrom, executive vice president of Community First Foundation. “Jeffco Thrives is asking the essential questions: Who else needs to be invited to the table? What is everyone working on? Where are the gaps?”
In true collaborative fashion, Jeffco Thrives joined forces with the Jefferson County Community Health Improvement Network to form a powerful partnership of more than 200 organizations. This partnership – now known collectively as Healthy Jeffco – comprises seven coalitions addressing the total well-being of Jefferson County residents.
These efforts will culminate in a summit in September bringing together more than 400 community members to generate implementation plans for making Jefferson County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play.
“The summit is a way for local organizations to get together to make decisions,” said Dr. Johnson. “CYLC is not driving the process but, rather, trying to provide a structure and a systematic way of approaching wellness in Jefferson County. We want to encourage organizations to continue their great work, but in tandem with others.”
Modeled after Live Well San Diego, Healthy Jeffco aims to adopt a comprehensive, long-term initiative on health, ensuring organizations aren’t working in silos toward the same goals.
Healthy Jeffco anticipates comprehensive implementation plans will take shape in early 2017.