Colorado Community Media reporter Alex DeWind, who reported a series of stories on the state of mental health in Douglas County, was honored April 9 as one of 10 recipients of Tri-County Health Department’s 2019 Public Health Hero awards.
Tri-County Health Department, which serves Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, recognizes individuals and organizations that are not in the public health profession but have worked to improve and promote public health.
“These are people who are doing God's work, who are not paid to do it — at least from the public health profession," said John Douglas, Tri-County’s executive director.
DeWind was a lead reporter on a team that spent 2018 exploring what mental health looked like in Douglas County. Her work focused on the stigma associated with mental health, barriers to care, youth suicide, maternal and pregnancy-related depression, the effect of technology and social media on our youth, and how mental health issues are affecting the role of law enforcement.
“Alex … has demonstrated a commitment to framing stories that would be heard and make a difference to her readers,” Douglas said. She and Colorado Community Media “have been a vital partner in increasing the conversation regarding mental health.”
DeWind, 26, who has been with Colorado Community Media since 2015, said she was extremely honored by the award.
"This series was, by far, the most meaningful project I’ve contributed to in my career as a journalist," she said. "I got to explore a real, raw side of humanity that we as a society tend to want to hide. What made this series so powerful were the incredibly strong people who were kind enough to share their stories of struggle and triumph around mental health, and the leaders in the public health field who are passionate about finding solutions to the cracks in mental health care."
Other honorees were:
• Donna Zimmerman, executive director of Giving Heart Englewood, for promoting public health efforts in the prevention of HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis A and overdose prevention supplies to people experiencing homelessness.
• Michele Ebendick, community outreach and special projects manager for Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD), a statewide nonprofit focused on improving the lives of Colorado children through early identification of developmental needs.
• Michele Irwin and Margie Chilson, account executives at Denver7. Irwin’s personal mental health story engaged Denver7 to think differently about the topic and embrace a partnership with Let’s Talk Colorado during mental health month in May 2018.
• Mitzi Schindler, director of communications for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and board member Aurora Health Alliance, for its strong partnership with Tri-County as an advocate for community services and programs and as a key partner on Tri-County’s Initiative for Workplace Health and Well-being.
• Dr. Kaylin Klie, a passionate advocate and invaluable resource for Tri-County’s Nurse Family Partnership staff, who works with clients struggling with substance use disorders.
• Healthy Farmer’s Market in Thornton, a collaboration among three entities that created a weekly farmers' market in a high-need, food-desert area of Thornton. It also accepted SNAP and WIC as payment, making healthy foods accessible to a lower-income population. The recipients were community volunteer Josh Gardner, Genné Boggs of Anythink Huron Street Library and Aeron Calkins, owner of Lulu’s Farm.
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