[El Paso County Public Health]

Members of the Project ACCESS collaborative were honored at the BUILD Health Challenge Award Ceremony on June 9 in Washington, DC. Pictured left to right: Elisabeth Almond, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services; Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health; Mina Liebert, LiveWell Colorado Springs; Aubrey Day, LiveWell Colorado Springs; Mia Ramirez, Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Amy Latham, The Colorado Health Foundation. Photo courtesy of LiveWell Colorado Springs

Members of the Project ACCESS collaborative were honored at the BUILD Health Challenge Award Ceremony on June 9 in Washington, DC. Pictured left to right: Elisabeth Almond, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services; Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health; Mina Liebert, LiveWell Colorado Springs; Aubrey Day, LiveWell Colorado Springs; Mia Ramirez, Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Amy Latham, The Colorado Health Foundation. Photo courtesy of LiveWell Colorado Springs

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A new collaborative project in Colorado Springs recently became one of 18 in the nation to receive a grant for a groundbreaking project that aims to improve health in low-income communities.

The initiative, Project ACCESS, was chosen for its approach to addressing the social and environmental factors that have the greatest impact on health.

“Health is more than going to the doctor,” said Mina Liebert, director of LiveWell Colorado Springs. “Your health is affected by many factors, such as the community in which you live, local employment opportunities, social support, and access to safe parks and healthy foods.”

Project ACCESS (Assessment and Community Collaboration to Engage and Strengthen Southeast Colorado Springs) will engage residents and leaders of southeast Colorado Springs, an area struggling with rising poverty levels, high unemployment, and violence.

“This community experiences significant disparities in access to services, care, and safe environments; there are no primary care providers and very few organizations serving the community’s needs,” said Susan Wheelan, deputy director of El Paso County Public Health. “As a result, the residents in this area suffer from high rates of chronic illness, pain, substance abuse, obesity, and mental illness.”

This planning grant of $75,000 will support efforts to assess health data and research and engage the community in identifying solutions aimed at improving health.

The collaboration involves YMCA of Pikes Peak Region, LiveWell Colorado Springs, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, El Paso County Public Health, Colorado Community Center Collaborative, Penrose-St. Francis Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, Community Health Partnership, Peak Vista Community Health Centers, and Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

Project ACCESS partners were honored at the BUILD Health Challenge Award Ceremony on June 9 in Washington, DC by Karen DeSalvo, MD, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the five funding organizations: the Advisory Board Company, the Kresge Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The BUILD (Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, Data Driven) Health Challenge is designed to encourage communities to build meaningful partnerships among hospitals and health systems, community-based organizations, their local health department, and other organizations to improve the overall health of local residents.