The be well Health and Wellness Initiative Recognizes Healthy School Champions

DENVER, Colo. (April 11,2018) – Four schools that participate in the be well Youth Program, part of the be well Health and Wellness Initiative of The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities, have been named a 2018 Healthy School Champion. This year’s honorees include Denver School of the Arts ($300 Promising School Award), Ashley Elementary School ($500 Excellence Award), New Legacy Charter School ($500 Excellence Award), and North Middle School ($1,000 Bronze Award).

 “It’s a great honor to have them receive this recognition,” said Emily Shore, director of Healthy Schools for The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities.  Shore pointed out that this is the second consecutive year that four be well Youth Program schools have earned the Healthy School Champion designation. 

be well is a grassroots movement of communities coming together to take charge of their health and wellness.  be well Youth engages kids, schools and communities in creating and promoting fun activities, events and advocacy projects to encourage healthy living among children and their families.  (click here to read the more)

Youth Block Captains/Youth Council - Registrations Now Being Accepted! 

Register HERE

Youth in the be well Block Captain Program promote healthy living in the be well Zone and abroad among family, friends, peers and neighbors through outreach with schools, churches, sports teams and other youth-oriented community organizations. All youth block captains complete a healthy living training, equipping them with new attitudes, skills, and knowledge as it relates to health and wellness and the civic engagement process.

The be well Youth Block Captain training builds the capacity of youth to serve on the be well Youth Council. It also allows them to utilize information learned in the implementation of community projects and events. be well Youth Block Captains design, promote, and implement 1-3 activities, projects, or events each year to encourage healthy changes in the be well Zone among their peers, as well as, inform or recommend health policies (or best-practices) that could help to make healthy living easier for students at schools throughout the be well Zone. 

Diverse youth ranging in age from 8-17 years serve as Youth Block Captains on the be well Youth council with representation from be well schools and from the be well Zone. To date, 94 youth have completed the be well Youth Block Captain training since the start of the be well Youth program in 2012. Currently, there are 23 youth block captains actively serving on the be well Youth Council. 2016 healthy living projects for the Council included videos on both cooking/nutrition and anti-bullying. 2017 projects for the Council included a movie premiere night to showcase the 2016 videos and a carnival/family fun block party.

When asked what be well youth are most excited about, one youth responded, “Our events…how much planning goes into them and then seeing how big the event ends up being.”

School Wellness

The be well Youth program is now in its 10th year of working with schools on wellness

efforts and has been involved with 27 schools in Denver and Aurora since 2012.

In collaboration with two school districts, Denver and Aurora, be well assists schools with

coordinating a School Wellness Team, including recruitment, meeting organization, and

structure. Each wellness team completes an assessment/inventory to learn the current

“health status” of their school and is then charged with developing and executing a

roadmap to improve healthy living at their school.

  • School Wellness Teams are comprised of various stakeholders such as principals, teachers, parents, students, nurses and community members. Students play a key role on the school wellness team in that they have unique insight on how to engage their peers in healthy living activities through first-hand experience and innovative interactions.
  • School Wellness Teams influence school operations and promote local policy change at the individual school level, advocate and help make sustainable built environment changes and/or provide programs, events or seminars to address specific health topics tailored to their student body or the surrounding community.

In both districts be well provides resources, support, and technical assistance to the School Wellness Teams to create healthier school environments and aid in the development of the roadmap. be well also provides funds to schools via the healthy schools mini-grant program, and leverages funds for schools to carry out their activities described in their roadmaps.

Activities and/or projects that have been implemented by be well School Health and Wellness Teams in the past include:

  • Gaga Pits- construction of 2 large, octagonal Jewish Dodgeball Pits to increase opportunities for physical activity and promote active group play for students and the surrounding Park Hill neighborhood community (McAuliffe International School).

  • Bill Roberts School Garden-a 14 bed school vegetable garden to produce and promote more healthful foods for students and families via donations to the school food pantry, interactive classroom curriculum, middle school cooking classes and the summer garden program (William “Bill Roberts School).

  • Classroom Brain Boosts- 2 daily breaks in classroom instruction for movement, wiggles, and water (Ashley Elementary).

  • Walking School Bus-a Safe Routes to School program where parents and students walk to school together before the bell to increase physical activity and promote pedestrian safety (Fletcher Community School, Montview Elementary School, Crawford Elementary School & Paris Elementary School)

  • Bike Rodeo- an all-day school event empowering kids to bike and walk safely to school including practice-skills workshops and a community bike swap (William “Bill” Roberts K-8).

  • Zumba Classes-hour long after school family fitness classes to provide opportunities for students, parents, and staff to increase physical activity levels (Ashley Elementary & Venture Prep).

  • be well Snack Cart- a mobile cart serving fresh fruit or low-sugar granola bars to high school students during extended school days (Venture Prep).

  • Zumante’s Garden Program- a learning garden for students and the Northeast Park Hill community, including a Youth Farmer’s Market (Smith Renaissance School).


For more information on school wellness or the healthy schools mini grant program, please contact Meredith Fast at

Youth Block Captain Training

The be well Youth Block Captain training, is a fun, interactive 6-week healthy living training

that equips children with new attitudes, skills and knowledge as it relates to health and

wellness and builds their capacity to serve on the be well Youth Council. In the training,

be well Youth explore community organizing and advocacy strategies that can be used as

a tool to build their will to lead healthier lives and promote healthy living opportunities

among their peers. Specifically, the training helps youth to eat healthy, move more,

maintain a healthy heart and be comfortable in their own skin. The training also helps

youth establish ways to share what they learned with their peers. All youth who complete

the training are considered be well Youth Block Captain Connectors and are recognized at

the Annual be well Awards and Community Celebration.

The training uses a combination of innovative and evidence-based strategies intended to motivate and engage youth as leaders in reducing the spread of childhood obesity and other preventable illnesses that impact children in the be well Zone and abroad.

Each year, new kids are nominated to participate in the be well Youth Block Captain training by their school principal, teacher, or trusted community member. Youth who complete the be well Youth Block Captain training and want to further pursue the be well Youth Program have the option of applying to join the be well Youth Council. • The be well Youth Block Captain training is held once a year. The last training was held November-December 2020. 23 youth block captains completed the 2020 training and 10 were selected to join the Youth Council in 2021. Youth Block Captain training 2021 starts on November 4, 2021. If you would like to nominate a local youth to participate in the be well Youth Block Captain training program, contact Ty Crawford at You can also register for the training at

be well Youth is a program that engages kids, schools, and communities in creating and promoting fun activities, events, and programs to encourage healthy living among youth and their families in the be well Zone. be well Youth has 2 major initiatives: The be well Youth Block Captain program and be well School Health and Wellness Teams in Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools within the be well Zone.

To date, more than 1,700 people have been impacted by the be well Youth Program. These numbers do not include efforts facilitated by be well School Health and Wellness Teams in partnership with Denver and Aurora Public Schools.

Health and Wellness Initiative