New project aims to give Coloradans voice on health debate

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

Do you wear a seat belt when you drive? Do you recycle? Do you think smoking is unhealthy?

Its likely your answers are yes, yes and yes again.

But decades ago, cars didnt have seat belts, no one bothered to recycle and once upon a time, Americans viewed smoking as glamorous, not as a killer habit to be uniformly condemned.

Education campaigns over years convinced people to change their attitudes. Thats the long-term goal of a new effort that is being launched today to engage Coloradans about important health coverage and care issues.

The campaign, Project Health Colorado, launches today with ads in both English and Spanish that will appear on TV, billboards, on the web and in newspapers across Colorado.

The campaign poses simple questions like: Is health care in Colorado working? and Can you afford the health care you and your family need?

The Colorado Trust, which is dedicated to achieving access to health for all Coloradans, is helping sponsor the new campaign.

While some Coloradans have health coverage and the ability to receive quality health care, it costs too much or simply isnt accessible for many families and individuals, said Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Trust.
Making health care work better for everyone in our state requires that Coloradans have access to good information and are able to both speak up about health care challenges and propose solutions, Calonge said.
The project includes on-the-ground work by a group of grantees along with a mass media campaign.

How will the effort change the conversation over health issues? For, Cathy Morin, one of the grantees and director of operational excellence for the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center, the answer is simple.

What I want to see at the end of the grant is that health care can no longer be used as a political football for the parties, meaning that people can think for themselves, Morin said. People are hungry for health information.

As part of their health awareness campaign in southern Colorado, Morin and her partners ask people young and old how they can make their community healthier. In one small town, students said they had nothing to do and were bored after school. Thats why so many were smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Efforts are now under way to sponsor more activities for young people to create a healthier environment.

Ultimately, we want all Coloradans to be able to get the care they need to stay healthy, added Dr. Calonge. Our goal is to help give Coloradans a say when it comes to making health care work.

For more information, visit Project Health Colorado at