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Resource Centers Help CO Kids Improve Health

May 17, 2011

DENVER - The health indicator rankings for Colorado are dismal: 44th nationwide in insured children; 23rd in the nation for childhood obesity; and 34th when it comes to childhood exercise. However, a multi-million-dollar multi-year grant to expand the reach of Family Resource Centers statewide aims to change those numbers.

Mark Kling, executive director of the Family Resource Center Association (FRCA) in Colorado, says their network of 23 facilities help Colorado's neediest families live healthier lives.

"Our goal is, hopefully, that a family that's been working with us a while will no longer need our services, and we can start helping other families, and the families we have been working with over time begin to thrive and move into a more self-reliant world."

The FRCA will receive $10 million over three years from the Colorado Health Foundation. The grant will help Colorado families in a variety of ways, ranging from getting access to insurance to providing exercise and nutrition programs to planting community gardens.

Khanh Nguyen, senior program officer for healthy living programs at the Colorado Health Foundation, says the Family Centers can be a real force for positive change.

"Parents and children are key to our work, especially in healthy living, which is trying to change behaviors, trying to educate parents on how to raise healthy children, and of course giving them those tools to make some of those changes happen."

Mark Kling says families across the state face problems in nutrition, health care, and wellness activities. His group serves 44 different counties, with areas ranging from urban centers to what they call the "frontier centers" in rural Colorado.

"Working with them over time, we become very trusted partners with them. We call that being the trusted helping hands so that they can come to us with whatever issue or problem or question they might have."

Kling says the grant will expand their to reach to more than 20,000 Colorado children and families.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO