Imagine a Colorado where everyone is able to live a long and prosperous life—not just survive, but thrive.

Imagine people who have been left out of decision-making coming together, having their voices heard and making positive changes in their communities. Consider these examples:

A young person was living in a neighborhood where the only nearby park was dilapidated and uncared for. With her friends, she attended city council meetings, spoke to the media and eventually influenced city officials to make improvements to their local park.

Coloradans with disabilities worked together to advocate for better sidewalks and public transportation in their communities. Their efforts benefited their neighbors, including parents with strollers and people living far from work.

Imagine parents and grandparents who remembered their rural Colorado town when it was thriving. They worked alongside students and teachers to start a career training program at the high school. Soon, students were learning new trades and even taking steps to build their own businesses.

Versions of these stories have played out across our state. When people experiencing hardship have the power and resources to make positive changes in their communities, they can identify solutions that benefit everyone.

All Coloradans benefit when people left out of decision-making have the power and opportunity to transform communities.

We all benefit when every community member has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. We all benefit when we listen to people who have been left out of decision-making. In order for Coloradans in every community to thrive, people who have been left out must have a voice in the decisions that influence their well-being.

Our health depends on more than just health care.

Our well-being is shaped by factors that include where we live, the wages we earn and our access to education and opportunity. It can also be shaped by factors like discrimination and exclusion. Our well-being is also affected by our sense of belonging, how connected we feel to the people around us and the opportunities we have to make decisions that affect our community. Working together, we can make programs and policies fair for everyone, so that all Coloradans can lead healthy, productive lives.

Social and economic policies and systems have a direct impact on health.

Social and economic policies and systems are institutions, norms and processes that influence how we live, learn, work and play, and impact our lives. (These are sometimes referred to as the social determinants of health.) When we do not have influence on the systems that impact our lives, we suffer from worse health and have a shorter life span. For far too long, some people have been left out of decision-making in their communities, preventing them from living long and healthy lives.