2016 Winners

We received ideas from participants of all ages from all over the state. From a fourth-grade class in Basalt to an entrepreneur in Denver, ideas were inspired from 76 teams across 19 counties. Below are the 10 winning ideas.

All 2016 Winners
Living Closer Foundation - Top 5 Youth
Living Closer Foundation - Top 5 Youth
Say ShFat That! to Sugar and Junk Food
Youth 2nd Runner-Up

How would we connect Colorado youth to a healthier lifestyle?

Our idea to provide youth access to healthy foods and the education to make good choices is The ShFat That! Initiative. It all began when Dr. Richard Johnson, Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado, world renowned sugar expert and Indian Ridge parent, spoke to the Indian Ridge community about how sugar turns to fat inside your body. The Living Closer Foundation and Indian Ridge students came up with the name ShFat That! as a fun way to help kids say “NO” to eating too much sugar and junk food.

So how does one become a ShFat That! Kid? It’s easy!

  1. Choose water over soda or juice.

  2. Say NO to junk food!

  3. Play outside everyday.

  4. Find a ShFat That! Champion to help you implement ShFat That! Initiatives

A ShFat That! Champion is a leader in the community (principal, lunchroom manager, coach, teacher, scout leader) who can help students make healthy choices. Indian Ridge ShFat That! Champions worked with students to implement a fresh fruit/veggie program with funds from the school store and started a community garden. They also took the 5th graders to the Colorado State Capitol and made history advocating for a Resolution creating the first Colorado Children’s Health Day on May 1, 2015.

The Living Closer Foundation became ShFat That! Champions and have created a film to share with elementary schools to celebrate Colorado Children’s Health Day. The movie stars Skippy the SuperRoo, Hero of SuperFoods and his rival ‘Rex’. In the story, Skippy eats healthy foods to gear up for their big race, while Rex consumes chocolate bars and soda. The film will show children the downside of eating too much sugar and the power of eating fruits and veggies, while they enjoy an engaging story of true friendship. The free movie opens to the public Monday, April 25 and can be downloaded at www.ShFatThat.com

If LCF, in Partnership with Indian Ridge Elementary, were to win this contest, we would look for an underserved Aurora, CO elementary school to receive the prize money to become ShFat That! Kids and Champions.

Submitted by Student Health Advisory Council Jeffco  - Top 5 Youth
Submitted by Student Health Advisory Council Jeffco - Top 5 Youth
Social Media Outdoor Youth App
Youth Grand Prize

We are the Student Health Advisory Council for Jeffco Public Schools. We are a team of 15 youth leaders who are passionate about health. Colorado is cited as being the healthiest state in the nation. However, we have the second fastest rising childhood obesity rates in the nation. People are less active due to technology that promotes sedentary lifestyles. Our proposal is a phone app that encourages our peers to go outside and enjoy Colorado’s parks and open spaces. The GenerationGO app would:

  • Capture the joy of outdoor activities through pictures, video etc.
  • Connect with friends
  • Organize social events
  • Access maps, trails and directions
  • Track time spent outside, locate friends at chosen destination and earn reward points
  • Share park updates, give and receive reviews of parks and open spaces
  • Increase safety by using the app to check-in with parents and park rangers

A council member and her classmates at Columbine High School conceived this idea. They conducted a class survey that gave us data about why 14-18 year olds are not spending time outdoors. This online survey had almost 200 responses. Some of the barriers identified were technology, homework, safety, and a lack of social activities. Participants said they spend their time watching TV or playing on their phone rather than going outdoors. A social-media app is a perfect solution to these barriers. Although there are many “connecting” apps, only ours would combine, social connection and physical activity with Colorado’s parks and open spaces. Finally, we believe the most innovative part of the proposal is that passionate youth advocates will help to create, promote and implement the app. Promotion of the app will be crucial. We envision leveraging the many existing youth councils across the state. They could promote the app on their website with blogs, pictures and updates. Additionally, we will leverage our existing partners such as CO9to25 and Kaiser Permanente while seeking out new partners. Our research has led to a solution that engages teen’s love of technology with physical activity.

Kitty Swan - Top 5 Adult
Kitty Swan - Top 5 Adult
Colorado Real Food Days
Top 5 Adult

Did you know there are almost as many national food holidays as there are days in a year?  And food holidays usually get started by the companies who just happen to sell these very foods which are usually not nutritious whatsoever!  So this got us thinking… 

Imagine… what if Colorado took the lead in establishing the first ever State Food Holidays--but spotlighting Colorado’s fresh, homegrown foods? Let’s let the national food holidays take a back seat and get our Colorado kids excited about our state’s abundance of fresh, nutritious foods available right in our own backyard!

Imagine... Colorado REAL Food Days.

So our idea for Imagine Colorado is very, very simple: We propose creating a calendar designating one Colorado-grown food to be celebrated each week. And there are plenty--believe it or not Colorado has 36,500 farms growing all these amazing fruits and vegetables!

For example one week in August the whole state would celebrate Colorado Cantaloupe Day, with classroom activities,  cooking classes, recipe contests, online quizzes and games, school cafeteria and farm-to-school participation, grocery store promotions and sampling, and possibly distribution to families in need and to food desert areas. It starts with a simple idea that takes on a life of its own as the community involvement unfolds. 

In Colorado, we are very lucky to have the abundance of delicious produce. It’s REAL, FRESH, LOCAL, WHOLESOME and NUTRIENT-DENSE!

 Let’s celebrate Colorado home-grown treasures: our kids, our foods!

Derek Medina - Top 5 Adult
Derek Medina - Top 5 Adult
Athmar Parkour
Top 5 Adult

Our submission proposes a Parkour course that would be built in our neighborhood at Huston Lake Park. The dictionary defines Parkour as the sport of moving rapidly through an area, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.  This project envisions a space made of assorted concrete structures, steps, and grasping bars, for unlimited possibilities of motion and "ninja" skills.

There are several reasons we have selected this as our project. One is that it engages a youth group that has grown too old for the playground, but they still crave an active and exciting physical outlet. And, with Parkour, there is no barrier to entry; We had initially considered a skate-park, but when we talked with kids and their parents in our community, it was evident that there was a desire for something that did not cost anything to use, (i.e. purchase of a skateboard and safety gear.) We looked at our park, and realized everything had a financial cost to use; basketball, tennis, baseball, soccer, and even the horseshoe pits all required those who are able to enjoy them, to purchase equipment. With Parkour, however, all you need is a body and imagination. Another reason we selected this project is that it is an exciting and thrilling sport that is becoming widely popular among kids and teens, but there is no public space for them to engage in it.  And the final reason we selected this, is that it would be unique and create a sense of pride in the community and something that can be important and place-making for our youth.

To ensure that this projects will achieve success and increase fitness in the youth in our neighborhood, we are partnering with Apex Movement, an indoor Parkour gym and America's largest educational organization for Parkour. They have experience designing and implementing these type of public Parkour courses, while offering programing and classes that will help activate the space.

With these goals, community support, partnerships,  and ease of construction,  we feel this is a very feasible project to accomplish.

Thank you for this exciting opportunity. 

Caleb Guarino - Top 5 Adult (Community Vote)
Leap Adventurers
Adult 1st Runner-Up

Our Startup:Leap is an online platform dedicated to matching outdoor enthusiasts to a variety of outdoor adventures, and applicable gear, in their local area. Leap provides a way for explorers to share their experiences and recommendations with fellow adventurers. We believe that no weekend should be without an adventure and no adventurers should be ill-equipped for their next exploration.

Mission: Our mission is to enable people of all walks of life to enjoy the great outdoors by sending awesome people on real adventures with safe and effective equipment.


- Unite the outdoor community in Colorado with great adventures

- Foster outdoor activities and exercise to adults and youth

- Provide opportunities for volunteer projects (trail restoration, wolf sanctuary work, etc.)

- Allow our users to create adventures/projects that other members can join or contribute to

-Create a greater appreciation for the environment

All video is owned by Leap Adventurers


"Mountain Sound" by Of Monsters and Men (Instrumental)
Compositions c 2012 Of Monsters and Men / Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI)

Lori Fuqua Gregory - Top 5 Youth
Lori Fuqua Gregory - Top 5 Youth
Top 5 Youth

Our ‘Project:GROW’idea empowers underserved youth through garden-based education and employment. We have created a youth education and sustainable gardening program we are calling Project:Grow - designed for homeless and youth aging-out of foster care in Colorado. Project:GROW will be located in downtown Denver near a youth transitional housing facility. Our goal is to connect youth to housing, health care, education, jobs and our Colorado community.

For some youth leaving foster care, homelessness comes the day they emancipate from the Colorado foster care system; others move from a foster home into a bad housing situation only to find themselves without shelter shortly thereafter. They may feel lucky to crash on a friend’s couch, or they find themselves sleeping in a car, at an emergency shelter, or in the park. Some are without a steady roof over their heads for days that turn into weeks or even years. Many Metro Denver youth who have emancipated from foster care end up at transitional housing facilities or shelters.

The Colorado Teen Project,GoFarm along with David Wann and Denver Urban Gardens have collaborated as a team to bring Project:Grow to life. Project:Grow will work with youth to become gardeners, harvesters and potential team leaders for Colorado-based Learning Gardens - reinforcing sustainable organic gardening, healthy business practices and responsible leadership. Project:GROW will break down racial and cultural barriers through communication and understanding within our diverse crew. Our youth leaders will grow produce using organic techniques and sell it at a weekly Farmer’s Market onsite.

GoFarm’s educated farmers and our plentitude of volunteers will provide the manpower for training. Youth would learn how to incorporate their new skills into resumes, providing a path to employment, and create internship opportunities through local collaborations and assistance through farm partners, and other agricultural and wellness agencies. Youth involved with Project:GROW will learn about gardening, harvesting and marketing their locally-sourced food - which can be a powerful equalizer, teacher and catalyst for personal growth and local change.

Kellie Walters - Top 5 Adult
Kellie Walters - Top 5 Adult
Smart Fit Girls
Adult Grand Prize

The health benefits of being physically active throughout the lifespan are widely known. Individuals who are highly physically active are more likely to have a greater self-esteem, better body image, and increased physical activity self-efficacy. Currently, the average PE program provides less than 12% of the recommended daily amount of physical activity, with adolescent girls being the least active. Therefore there is a great need for more programs that provide opportunities for adolescent girls to be physically active and to develop their sense of self-esteem and physical activity self-efficacy. Smart Fit Girls, Inc. is a 10-week after-school program aimed at improving the physical and mental well-being of adolescent girls (age 10-13). During each session, girls participate in activities specifically geared to improve self-esteem and body image as well as engage in various forms of physical activity, with a focus on resistance training. The focus on resistance training is intentional, because when girls become physically stronger, this strength translates into all other aspects of their lives: they become emotionally and mentally stronger as well. Preliminary results from Smart Fit Girls, Inc. demonstrate significant improvements in self-esteem and body image. The next step for Smart Fit Girls, Inc. is to partner with the City of Fort Collins Recreation Department, which provides services to individuals regardless of income. The City of Fort Collins Recreation Department can provide the resources necessary to execute the program on a larger scale, including the provision of space and equipment. This is also a scalable approach, as offering programming through recreation departments can allow Smart Fit Girls, Inc. to reach a much broader audience and expand the positive results of the program. With this partnership, a greater number of adolescent girls living in Colorado will have the opportunity to improve their physical and emotional well-being, thereby impacting the health of Colorado for future generations.

Dan Cuoco - Top 5 Youth
Dan Cuoco - Top 5 Youth
Running Minds
Youth 1st Runner-Up

"Running Minds" is an idea created by 5th grade students at Antelope Ridge Elementary in Aurora, CO.

When we were thinking about how to connect Colorado's youth with daily physical activity, we considered what resources we have available to us at our school. For many kids, the safest, most secure environment is their school. That's why we decided to use our school grounds as a means to promote healthy lifestyles.

Our school is designed like a loop. The inner circle of the building connects all the pods of classrooms. So we thought, "Let's turn that loop into a track!" Students can enter the loop to the right to prevent traffic issues, and either run two laps to their destination in the building, or walk one.

From there, the idea took off! We considered how we could connect with a company like fitbit to track individual activity levels. Students could log this information and track their growth. An app could be created to make physical activity fun and interactive by including pins students can unlock for a certain amount of minutes earned. As a school, we can give out a physical activity award every trimester. This idea could then spread to other schools in our district, other districts, and perhaps the state. Not every school is designed like a circle, but they could be capable of creating running lanes in their hallways. What if there was a metro area "Running Minds School of the Month" based on total student participation?

Other ideas to grow the idea that we could not fit in the video were special hall passes for "brain breaks," as well as special indoor recess passes...students could have the option to run laps in the hall instead of sitting and watching a movie on rainy and snowy days. A running path could also be built on school grounds to give students the option to run during recess.

"Running Minds" is an easy, affordable way to connect Colorado youth with daily physical activity!

Paul Andersen - Top 5 Adult
Paul Andersen - Top 5 Adult
Pocket Playgrounds
Adult 2nd Runner-Up

While Colorado is one of the least obese states in the country, we may not be for long. With a ranking of 23rd in the nation, Colorado's childhood obesity rate is rising at the 2nd fastest rate of increase in the nation. Children who live in financially challenged families—families that don’t ski, play organized sports, or belong to a health club—are particularly at risk of becoming obese. Wouldn’t it be great to provide Colorado kids with a way to get fresh air and exercise for free? Even better, what if they have so much fun that they don’t even realize that they’re exercising?

We think that this can be done with pocket playgrounds: small neighborhood playgrounds built on residential lots. Pocket playgrounds combine two simple ideas. The first is an urban concept. In addition to having large, consolidated playgrounds that are located in parks, we can have small playgrounds dispersed through neighborhoods—a sort of infill development for playgrounds. The second is a design concept. We can make new play equipment that engages more users in more ways than the typical off the shelf stuff. It will be designed so that kids can invent lots of ways to interact with it over time. And each playground will be different, so every neighborhood gets a play environment that’s uniquely theirs. Play features can be designed to be used by people of all ages, so the whole family can play together and enjoy lifelong health. 

Going small has several strategic advantages. Real estate values tend to be lowest in impoverished neighborhoods, where children are most vulnerable to becoming obese. A small investment can have a big impact on health. Plus, we can give underserved communities the best playgrounds on earth. Pocket playgrounds bring the fun to the city—and that fun can go a long way toward making Colorado an even healthier place to grow up.