Children's Hospital Colorado

Children’s Colorado Kicks Off “Building Resiliency for Healthy Kids” Pilot Program

Children's Hospital Colorado | January 24, 2020

Students and their families gathered at Children’s Colorado, Colorado Springs to attend a health fair that kicked off the pilot program “Building Resiliency for Healthy Kids.” The program is a motivational, child-centered program aimed at studying whether it is possible to build and improve resiliency in children through one-on-one health coaching within a school setting.

Unique model intended to prevent child suicide

“Colorado's child suicide rate is higher than it’s ever been before, and there is more of a need than ever for children to have the tools they will need to work through life’s hardships, disappointments and challenges in a healthy, positive way,” said Margaret Sabin, president of Children’s Colorado’s Southern Region. “This is a very unique model, and we are hopeful that through this program and its corresponding research we will be able to help strengthen the mental health and emotional elasticity of children. We are grateful to partner with so many groups who are involved in launching this pilot program.”

Pilot program provides health coaches to build resiliency

The pilot program will kick off this semester with two classes at two different schools: Eagleview Middle School 6th graders and Monroe Elementary School 5th graders. The schools are in D11 and D20 school districts.

Children’s Colorado is placing health coaches into these classes and children will have the option of receiving guidance on developing healthy coping skills. Coaches will meet weekly with participating students to increase exposure to four main components that have been proven to help build resiliency:

1.     Facilitating a supportive adult-child relationship

2.     Establishing a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control

3.     Strengthening of adaptive skills and self-regulatory capacities

4.     Mobilizing sources of faith, hope and cultural tradition

Researchers will assess the program's impact

At the end of the school year, two researchers associated with Children’s Colorado and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will evaluate responses from students, while protecting student privacy, to determine the impact of the program and to craft improvements for future years.

Partners in this program include University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; D-11; D-20; and Pikes Peak United Way, as well as the U.S. Olympic Museum, which will be more involved in future stages.

The health fair gave participants and their families the opportunity to meet their health coaches, attend parent seminars on having conversations around vaping and social media, take a yoga break, ask experts about building resiliency and interact with various booths dedicated to promoting healthy living.

Health coaches hope to stop problems before they start

“As a health coach, this is an exciting opportunity to apply our skillset and resources to help kids develop essential life tools at a formative time in their lives,” said Erin Heberlein, education outreach coordinator and lead health coach leader at Children’s Colorado, Colorado Springs. “Our hope is to be able to teach them these things at the 5th-6th grade level to prepare them for the future and hopefully help stop problems before they start or deal with them healthily when they do.”

Health coaches will also examine changes in health behaviors, including diet, activity, sleep and screen time, during the program period and identify barriers and areas of opportunity for more organizations to become involved in building child resiliency.

Partnerships make this initiative possible

“It is absolutely necessary for us to work closely with partners across the entire spectrum of child care to see improvement in population health issues, such as mental health, nutrition and more,” Sabin said. “This health fair and resiliency program is the start of something truly special that embraces the hard work that is being done to support our mission to realize new ways to help our children not just grow, but thrive, in Colorado Springs and beyond. If successful, this program will hopefully become a model to help more children in communities near and far.”

If community organizations have questions about how to get involved, please contact Healthy Kids Program Manager Emily Pyle at HealthyKids@childrenscolorado.org.