That’s just what we set out to answer in our May 2019 Inside Denver Twitter chat with Blake Communications. We’ve got the insights of seven local experts.
Our experts agree: health starts at home (with cues from American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.) Having “a consistent and caring adult in the picture” as Miranda Graul says remains paramount to a child’s wellbeing. Director of Nurse-Family Partnership for Invest in Kids, Michelle Neal adds, we need to make sure these adults “are equipped physically, mentally, emotionally and financially to raise healthy children. ”From the arts to equity, safety to meaning, our experts advocated a holistic approach.
Insight #1: It’s not a chicken-or-the-egg situation; healthy adults lead to healthier children.
We hear the phrase “act local” all the time when it comes to small business and politics, but it’s also a good reminder for our kids. Playgrounds, schools, healthcare services, foundations, nonprofits, and government organizations all work together to build healthy environments and opportunities. Of these types of public/private partnerships, consultant Tara Jahn says, “there have been awesome strides…to create a city and metro area that prioritizes health and community connections.” Sara Doerflein of Swallow Hill Music adds, Denver is a creative “hotbed for a kid to grow up” in.
Insight #2: It takes a village to create a robust community that supports the development of healthy kids.
While there’s much to praise about Denver’s efforts to support kids, more work remains to be done. Alissa M. Trumbull, director of development and marketing for A Precious Child states, “More than 250,000 children live below the Self-Sufficiency Standard in our eight-county service area alone.” Our experts consider systemic issues to be the most pressing with consideration to fix systems rather than symptoms.
Insight #3: A grassroots approach (instead of one that’s topdown) has more potential for success—and for good.
Parents remain just one part of the healthy children equation. The rest? Everyone else. Jahn encourages us all to “feel and act more like a community that wants the best for all our kids." Doerflein adds more specifics: “We can support our kids with accessibility engagement, affordability, improved policies, funding, access to mental health services, arts/culture, high-quality food, strong education/communities, increased programs and support [and] mentorship opportunities."
Insight #4: One positive action, one kind word, one donation, one vote. They each add up to a sum greater than its parts.
Denver boasts a variety of organizations and networks with ample resources to support children and their caregivers including schools, nonprofits, social workers, and neighborhood communities. Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 phone line or website has a “vast amount of resources” according to Graul.
Insight #5: We first have to seek out help in order to receive it.