By Robin Baker
When Jefferson County released its Community Health Needs Assessment (bit.ly/Jeffco-CHNA-2018) last year, you might not have been surprised to see mention of tobacco use, obesity and diabetes rates or access to housing as impacts on one’s health. But there is one health factor that may have surprised you: community connections.
Over the last several years, there has been a lot of research about the negative impacts of our declining connection to our neighbors. These include increases in obesity, cardiovascular disease, mental health problems and even shorter life spans. Community connections aren’t the only things contributing to these health impacts, but they do play a big role. When we feel connected to others we have lower rates of anxiety and depression and higher rates of self-esteem and empathy.
But when our lives already feel too busy, how do we strengthen these social connections?
Live Local, a program of Localworks, does just that. With our commitment to advancing Wheat Ridge as a vibrant and sustainable community, Localworks recognizes the importance of relationships. The relationships we have with our neighbors, barista, postal carrier, city council members and families impact our health and wellbeing. One way to strengthen these connections is through the free or low-cost activities offered by Live Local.
Our first two events of the year were very successful. We celebrated our love of Colorado with a Colorado-themed Paint and Sip at Four Squares Framing and Art Gallery. Then, we sharpened our aim with an archery class at Rocky Mountain Specialty Gear. Both events gave community members a chance to get to know one another and interact with local businesses.
If you missed these events, don’t worry! We have a lot more fun coming up.
In April we’ll be getting to know the Parent Teach Association and students at Everitt Middle School with Lawn Games Night. This event includes giant chess and Jenga sets, corn hole, Frisbees, hula hoops, and visits by the Wheat Ridge Police Department, Public Health and What’s Up Dog Food Truck.
You can also look forward to the Spring Bee and Honey Festival on May 11 and 12 at Four Seasons Farmers and Artisans Market.
Later this year, we’ll have farm tours, opportunities to make your own herb and succulent planters, fitness in the park and a sing-along day.
If knowing that building social connections at our events doesn’t make you want to join us, we hope that knowing how much fun they’ll be will!
For more information on the Live Local program and events, please visit WeAreLocalworks.org/live-local.
Robin Baker is the Program Coordinator at Localworks.