Colorado routinely ranks as one of the fittest states in the nation (Denver was ranked the sixth fittest city in 2015), but our younger generations aren’t quite keeping up. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, one in four five to 11-year-olds in our state are overweight or obese. To address this, the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) and LiveWell Colorado are asking residents for their big ideas to create a plan that will knock out the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Imagine Colorado is the nation’s first-ever statewide open innovation challenge, created via a partnership between COIN and LiveWell Colorado, to seek out the most effective ways to connect Colorado children to a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and nutrition. Coloradans ages seven years old and up can submit their ideas at The guidelines for the challenge are purposefully lean, as there will be vast differences between what a second grade class dreams up compared to the vision of a technology entrepreneur, but the ideas should fall under two categories: physical activity and nutrition.

“This is an issue that matters to everyone statewide,” says Kelly Underell, COIN deputy director. “We’re looking for actionable ideas from all types of people in our state. Everyone has a place in this conversation.”

In April, the top 10 finalists chosen by online voting and experts will present at a live event to a panel of judges. The grand prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the best adult and youth ideas, and the top five adult finalists will also be given an opportunity to interview with the Unreasonable Institute’s accelerator program on early childhood. A total of $25,000 in prize money will be given across seven categories.

“What’s so exciting about an open innovation challenge is that we can find and cultivate ideas from fertile minds.” says Shepard Nevel, president and CEO of LiveWell Colorado. “There is a big emphasis to improve access to the outdoors and good nutrition for many of our young people who face obstacles. We need to tap into creative ideas to improve their health and wellness.”

The deadline to submit ideas to change the direction of health for Colorado’s youth is April 15.

Follow assistant editor Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter @LindseyRMcK.

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