‚ÄčHealth and Wellness Initiative

be well Newsletters

From the Desk of Vice President Alisha Brown

Eliminating health disparities is key to achieving health equity for all Denver residents. Health equity is ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to achieve the health that they desire regardless of any social circumstance. The be well Health and Wellness Initiative takes a unique approach to tackling health disparities. Since its inception in 2003, be well has addressed the root causes of health inequities. We work with populations who have previously been led to believe that healthy lives or communities are only a reality for those who have money, relationships, or other access to key individuals who can influence decisions that create social well-being.

By creating a community engagement (be well Block Captains) model in which people of all socio-economic, geographic, and racial backgrounds are free to become involved, express their opinions and know that they will be heard, be well has become a key community engagement organization that can effectively mobilize community stakeholders and partners.

be well depends on a unique volunteer base of be well Block Captains who are residents and stakeholders from the be well zone. be well Block Captains are youth and adult neighborhood leaders who work to improve health in their communities. They receive significant training and support to develop their skills in community mobilization and understanding of health issues. The training immerses participants in grassroots efforts that teach them how to build public will to support equitable policies. Upon completion of the training, be well Block Captains are "on the ground" knocking on doors, with the passionate intent of organizing their family members, friends and neighbors in improving and maintaining their "health" and the "health" of their communities.

As a result of our education and advocacy efforts, be well has informed city policy allowing for health and wellness centers to be incorporated into Denver and Aurora Recreation Centers. This has created access to prevention services that would not otherwise be available to many underserved, low income residents. The be well Centers offer free nutrition and fitness sessions, enrollment assistance for health programs, and education and information sessions on health policy.

Changes in the built environment such as street connections, traffic calming measures, increased pedestrian safety and the rebuilding of playgrounds have become a reality due to the work of the be well Block Captains. be well advocacy efforts have led to the securing of city funds to renovate the Moorhead Recreation Center. Changes have been made to school policies to offer healthier options and increased physical activity opportunities in schools.

With the keen understanding that everyone and every organization has a role in addressing health inequities, be well strives to build alliances to advance opportunities for everyone to achieve the health that they desire regardless of any social circumstance. Join be well as we continue to design implement and assess new programs with our communities. Get involved with be well!  follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook to share your healthy living stories.