In Southeast Colorado, the effects of family and community leadership are taking root, quite literally.
While creating a mural that expressed their vision for their community, youth leaders in Lamar drew attention to a community need. The HOPE Center, a youth center that provides academic supports and prevention and intervention programming, had a barren field that was not an ideal playspace for the children and youth spending time there. On the mural, one youth wrote that they’d like to see, “Grass for the HOPE Center.”
Over the next few years, community awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and volunteer work sessions were led by the youth involved with One Step Up, a leadership development program headed up by Emily Nieschburg, former executive director of Big Timbers Community Alliance.
In late April, 2018, sod was laid down to establish roots for a healthy playspace. Today, youth and children of Lamar have a lush green field to play in!
Additionally, when the Colorado Statewide Innovation Model’s (SIM’s) Community Engagement Survey was being launched, the project manager approached FLTI of Colorado and explained their need to partner with family leaders. Family leaders in key areas were asked to tap into their networks and get local voices to share their experiences with existing healthcare systems in the survey in order to inform future policies. FLTI of Prowers County led the way in responsiveness with twenty-five family leaders showing up to partner with SIM. The end result yielded representative input from the Lamar community to inform planning considerations for major healthcare policy in southeast Colorado.
We know that programs work better when the voices of those served by a program are included in the decision making process, and were thrilled to see such a great community response in Lamar!