Jeffco's champions in public health

Jefferson County Public Health serves up awards at its public health champion awards ceremony.

Posted 4/9/19

Tears were shed, food was scarfed down and awards were received by those who gathered for Jefferson County Public Health’s annual event recognized those who are working to make Jefferson County a …

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Jeffco's champions in public health

Jefferson County Public Health serves up awards at its public health champion awards ceremony.

Posted

Tears were shed, food was scarfed down and awards were received by those who gathered for Jefferson County Public Health’s annual event recognized those who are working to make Jefferson County a better place.

In honor of National Public Health Week (April 1-7) Jefferson County Public Health, an organization that is focused on promoting and protecting health, held its public health champion awards. The awards were given out to groups, individuals and organizations who are working to improve the health of Jefferson County residents on April 2 at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Among the award recipients were Explore and Discover, Michelle Deland, planner for North Central Region Healthcare Coalition, Meg Caley, co-founder of Sprout City Farms, Creative Treatment Options, Lakewood City Councilmember Dana Gutwein and the Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood, Adelante Jeffco and Communities That Care Youth Researchers.

“Our 2018 Public Health Champions are extraordinary examples of how members of the Jefferson County community can come together to create a healthier, better community for everyone,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson in a statement. Johnson is the executive director for Jefferson County Public Health.

Health challenges that face Jefferson County include opioid and prescription misuse, access to healthy, affordable food, youth vaping and other factors, according to Jefferson County Public Health.

Each of the health champions have worked to combat those issues like Gutwein and the Citizens for a Healthier Lakewood’s work to inform Lakewood residents about the rise of youth tobacco use. In January, Lakewood City Council voted to implement a new ordinance that requires retailers who sell non-cigarette tobacco products to have to pay a licensing application fee. The ordinance is a proven mechanism to prevent sales of tobacco to children.

“To me, anything that we can do to help our kids live a happier, healthier life is something that I want to be a part of and help address in Lakewood. It’s such a humbling experience to get recognized for that,” said Gutwein. “It was such a team effort, and for me, this is a special moment that I know I’m never going to forget.”

Caley and Sprout City Farms works to fight food insecurity by offering programs meant to meet the food access and educational needs of the community. Over 50,000 Jefferson County residents face food insecurity, according to data from Feeding America.

“(Being a public health champion) is a big honor. We’re focused on the work within the neighborhood, and sometimes its nice when you can pick your head up and see that it’s making a difference in the community,” said Caley.

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