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Two ColoradoSPH Grad Students Organize Denver’s First #Health2WorkDay

Colorado School of Public Health

Mahalia Hopkins (2nd from left) and Kelly Burka (far right) pose with volunteers and partners of the first #Health2WorkDay.

Event reached more than 1,000 people online and 112 downtown workers

One way to bring health into the workday for commuters and workers is to give them health opportunities during their commute. That was the idea behind the very first Health2WorkDay that was held at Denver’s Union Station in November, organized by two graduate students of the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Mahalia Hopkins and Kelly Burka are both second-year MPH students concentrating in Environmental and Occupational Health, and both are interns with the Health Links program in the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Work & Environment. They said planning the Health2WorkDay event was an opportunity they were both ready to take on. 

Kelly’s passion to help others live their healthiest lives was aligned with the opportunity to talk about how important health is in the workplace and Mahalia saw the event as a great way to bring together her interests in public health and making the most of a healthy lifestyle.

“I was immediately interested in being part of an event that showcased the unique ways people can easily bring health to the workplace and everyday life,” said Mahalia. “Health2WorkDay was an awesome opportunity for me to blend together both my passion for healthy lifestyles and my public health skills.”

The event was the first of its kind, designed to reach commuters and those working in the downtown area to encourage better health and well-being at work. Health2WorkDay centered on showcasing the many ways that health and activity can be incorporated into the workplace, evidenced by its theme “One Day, Small Steps, Work Healthy.”

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, more than 100 commuters and downtown workers stopped by Denver’s Union Station and made pledges to improve the health of their workday. Some of the most popular pledges included “I pledge to drink more water,” “I pledge to not text and drive,” and “I pledge to smile more.” An additional 1,000 people who couldn’t make it to Union Station in person engaged in #Health2WorkDay via social media and many made their own pledges on Facebook.

Health Links’ partners at the event featured free flu shots and A1C blood glucose screenings, diabetes prevention tips, yoga and Zumba sessions, Walk with a Doc, chair massages, and fruit and yogurt from FruitRevival and Noosa Yoghurt.  A Healthy Happy Hour was held at the Terminal Bar in Union Station with cheese platters, vegetables and hummus, fruit, and other snacks. 

The experience of organizing the event helped both students build skills that will help their careers after they graduate. “I am interested in all things public health, with a particular interest in coordination, management and policy related to public health issues in Denver,” said Kelly. “I gained a lot of skills working on the event—coordination, communication and collaboration—that I can use in my future career. It was great to see all of our partners interacting with each other and the public, and to see our ideas had been brought to life!”

Mahalia added that the collaboration from the many organizations that had a role in the day were a big part of what made it a success. “It was great to see how so many partners working in different disciplines could come together to accomplish one common goal,” added Mahalia. “It definitely takes a village to improve the well-being of a community.”

Story by Jana Gurkin, Center for Health, Work & Environment, ColoradoSPH


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