Shutterbugs to document health of Garfield County |

Shutterbugs to document health of Garfield County

It could be a matter of documenting a lack of sidewalks or bike paths in a particular neighborhood, or showing what one Garfield County community may be doing to promote healthy habits that others can learn from.

However they choose to illustrate it, a group of 24 citizen photographers will be combing the county from Carbondale to Parachute over the next week looking for images that depict both barriers to and opportunities for healthy living.

Called PhotoVoice, the project is part of the larger LiveWell Garfield County initiative, which aims to educate and inspire people to live healthier lifestyles.

In January, the Garfield County LiveWell coalition was awarded a nine-year, $1.2 million grant, joining 23 other Colorado counties that are part of the LiveWell Colorado initiative.

LiveWell Colorado is a fairly new nonprofit organization that is committed to reducing obesity in the state by promoting healthy eating and active living, or HEAL as an acronym.

The Garfield County HEAL Coalition is made up of public and private health organizations, municipalities, area school districts, food policy and nutrition groups and various recreation and outdoor interests.

“This is the first year of a nine-year initiative in Garfield County,” said Christine Singleton, LiveWell Garfield County community co-coordinator along with Sara Brainard.

Both Singleton and Brainard work with the Garfield County Public Health Department, which is one of the partners in the coalition.

“We want to hear from residents about their challenges and what opportunities exist to live a healthy life in our county,” Singleton said.

PhotoVoice is the kickoff to the initiative. It involves a group of citizen volunteers, including students, parents, educators and others, who are being issued disposable cameras to go out and document some of those barriers and opportunities.

Following a training session that took place earlier this week, the photo posse will be out snapping images in an effort to show potential problem areas, as well as ways communities are working to promote healthy lifestyles, Singleton explained.

The cameras are to be returned on March 22, and the group will convene again in April to select one descriptive photo from each photographer. Those photos will be included in a presentation to illustrate the current barriers and be used as a basis for an action plan, she said.

A major event is being planned for June at Grand River Hospital, where the photographers will describe their photo and tell the story behind it.

Ultimately, “The initiative seeks to build and sustain a movement towards healthy and active communities by focusing on policy, the built environment and lifestyle changes,” according to the LiveWell mission.

In Colorado, nearly 58 percent of adults and a quarter of children are overweight or obese, according to LiveWell Colorado.

“Working in partnership with obesity prevention initiatives across the state, LiveWell Colorado aims to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in the places they live, work, learn and play,” according to the statewide initiative.

Major funders of the initiative include the Colorado Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and the Kresge Foundation, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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