Colorado Updates 2019-10-09T09:12:13-07:00

September 2019

LifeStar Student of the Month

Danica from “Kids on the Move” summer camp out of Lily Gulch Recreation Center in Littleton, CO. 

Ryan, Danica’s site leader, chose her because she was such a great role model throughout the entire summer. She attended and actively participated every Tuesday in the LifeStar Challenge program. She asked questions, gave examples to her peers as to how she was using the information, and she put into practice what she gained as she always came to camp with healthy food choices. Danica’s favorite activity during camp was Zumba and the food group relay races.

HLS Coach of the Month

Our September 2019 Coach of the Month is Ryan Ulak from Foothills Park and Recreation District out of Littleton, CO in Jefferson County, Colorado.  Ryan was the Site Director for the summer “Kids On the Move Camp” which ran for 8 weeks out of Lily Gulch Recreation Center. Ryan incorporated Healthy LifeStars’, The LifeStar Challenge, into the camp programming as he thought the lessons and incentives were a good fit to reinforce not only the importance of movement but healthy eating and goal setting.  One of Ryan’s favorite Healthy LifeStars activities was when a Zumba for Kids instructor came to introduce the kids to a fun physical activity, Zumba!

Ryan saw the benefits of The LifeStar Challenge, “This program is impactful in so many ways. Working with a wide range of youth, I often see the poor food choices many families make and the lack of active time children get. Educating children on the importance of healthy eating and physical health is something that is crucial to the long-term development of young adults.”

Site Director Ryan Ulak standing left, with a group from “Kids on the Move” summer camp

July 2019

LifeStars Learned About Healthy Eating with Fun Hands-On Food Activity- July 26th, 2019.

Healthy LifeStars at Collegiate Academy STEAM Summer Camp in Jefferson County, CO had fun! During their science lesson they learned about the five core food groups and what a healthy meal should look like based on MyPlate. Then they created cheese and cherry tomato snakes and EZ Sundaes (yogurt, fruit, granola) parfaits, led by HLS- CO Registered Dietitian Tami Anderson.  A delicious and nutritious time was had by all!

On the Move with Zumba for Kids!  July 16th, 2019.

Foothills Parks and Recreation participants at Lily Gulch Recreation Center “Kids on the Move” summer program in Jefferson County had fun today during their LifeStar Challenge lesson dancing and moving to Zumba for Kids for over 45 minutes!  Whew!!  Thank you, Elaine Lopez, Zumba for Kids Instructor, You Rock!

May 2019

LifeStar Student of the Month

Jonathan, age 9, third grade, Jackson Elementary, Greeley, CO

Throughout the LifeStar Challenge program this school year, Jonathan has consistently been involved and has set his goals to be more active and drink less soda. According to his coach he’s always been a little overweight and the intramural afterschool club where the LifeStar Challenge is implemented is exposing him to new ways to increase his activity.  Jonathan is always receptive to try new activities during club time such as jump on the mini trampoline, jump rope, and lead various activity games with the other students. At home, instead of playing video games, he’s going outside and playing on his scooter more. His coach has also observed that during lunch he has a water bottle instead of sugary drinks. His coach believes the LifeStar Challenge is helping to motivate, incentivize and empower him to continue down the right path!







Coach of the Month

Mr. Jioni Reliford, Physical Education Teacher, Jackson Elementary, Greeley, CO

Mr. Reliford started The LifeStar Challenge program in the fall of 2018 after hearing about it during a breakout session at the CO Shape conference given by CO Division Director Tami Anderson.  Mr.Reliford, is in his first year of teaching and was excited to incorporate The LifeStar Challenge program into his new intramural physical activity afterschool club. He stated the program provided the nutrition and goal setting lessons in simple, brief ways which he utilized to complement his intramural physical activity games. Mr.Reliford found the incentives and wall chart beneficial to help monitor attendance and progress. He believes the LifeStar Challenge is helping to educate kids in not only physical activity but in nutrition and goal setting which will help empower kids down the right path at an early age.

April 2019








Colorado Kids Stepped It Up During the 2019 Step Up for Kids StepAThon!







Colorado had over 160 kids participate at 7 Healthy LifeStars program sites, which was a huge increase over last year in which we had 1 site and 8 kids participate. This year Colorado kids “Stepped” a total of over 2 million steps throughout the weeklong event held April 21-27th. Colorado children at each participating program site received a free wrist band pedometer, and tshirt, (4 sites held Zumba for Kids classes), sponsored by Transamerica!  On behalf of the CO kids in Healthy LifeStars, Thank You TransAmerica! The kids had a blast getting physical activity with this StepAThon!

LifeStars who attend Open World Learning’s (OWL) afterschool program at Colfax Elementary in Denver, CO had the opportunity to kick off Healthy LifeStars weeklong StepUp4KiDs, StepAThon with a fun Z umba for Kids class. The weather was beautiful and the kids were able to dance and move for over 1 hour to active music, all the while enabling them to add more steps to their daily activity! Check out the link below!

Healthy LifeStars (HLS) of Colorado, StepUp4KiDs StepAThon winner, Ali, wins a bike donated by Trips for Kids (TFK) Denver, presented May 15 by TFK CEO, John Pasquini and HLS Colorado Division Director, Tami Anderson. Ali is a student at Colfax Elementary Open World Learning’s (OWL’s) afterschool program who participated in the week-long StepAThon event. Ali won the bike by having the most steps in the CO kid category. He took 76,895 steps throughout the week by running, walking and jumping! Congrats are also in order for Colfax Elementary OWLS, as the top 3 kid winners in CO were from this school! Congrats Ali and Colfax OpenWorld Learning! Thank you Trips for Kids Denver Metro!

March 2019

LifeStar Student of the Month

Manh – Archuleta Elementary in Denver Public Schools

Manh is a determined 4th grade student who participates in The LifeStar Challenge program at Archuleta Elementary through Open World Learning’s (OWL) Afterschool Program.  Manh is goal oriented and has become committed and dedicated to utilizing his goal setting talents to help create healthier habits not only for himself but to help motivate his peers. 

His coach, Caprice Ringold, nominated Manh as a LifeStar Student of the Month for his daily conscientious effort to set and achieve health goals. Manh writes in his goal setting journal daily about his healthy habit journey. Manh is working hard to continually eat more fruits and vegetables and strives to get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Mahn stated he rarely ate fruit prior to HLS and now he has 2 or more every day. He has found that he loves to run and play the team energizer running games during OWL activity time.   Manh also has developed a passion to share his love for healthy habit goal setting with his friends at OWL as well as during school time. During OWL’s LifeStar Challenge lesson time, you may find Manh writing out health related questions for his peers and leading them in physical activity games. He also encourages them to try new healthy foods.    Mahn is a shining star but most impressive is that the LifeStar Challenge is helping him gain confidence in his leadership abilities.







January 2019 Colorado

Coach of the Month

Shai Baca, Teen Leader at YMCA Aurora, CO is our January Coach of the Month!  She coordinates the “Y” Teen Leaders who have taken on The LifeStar Challenge program as one of their service projects. Shai schedules and facilitates 10 teens who go out to area Aurora YMCA Afterschool based sites to coach younger kids on the program. The “Y” Teen Leaders  have taught lessons at 5 schools to approximately 150 kids.  We love Shai’s enthusiasm and commitment to the program!

“After the Y leaders learned about the Healthy Life Star program, I have seen many of these teens grow into awesome leaders and role models in the community. Dedicated to this program, the Y Leaders have taught the LifeStar Challenge lessons to many elementary schoolers throughout Aurora, CO. The elementary school aged youth always seem enthusiastic to learn from these teenagers. These youth seem to gain a better awareness of the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s neat to see these youth make healthy goals, have fun, and be active.”–Shai Baca







LifeStar Student of the Month

Jenna, age 17, is a senior at Grandview High School in Aurora, CO. She is a dedicated “Y” Teen Leader with Aurora YMCA and LifeStar Challenge teen coach and shining star. Jenna joined the “Y” Leaders this past fall and began teaching Healthy LifeStars, The LifeStar Challenge program, to elementary age youth within several Aurora YMCA after-school based sites. The following quote demonstrates Jenna’s enthusiasm to the program. “The LifeStar Challenge program has provided me with diverse interactions with kids by teaching them how to secure a more healthy future. Seeing the kids get excited about making goals to be more active by doing the things they love just makes me more encouraged to expand the project. The best part is watching how enthusiastic they are to learn and participate in the lessons and earn stars.” Jenna

Thank you Jenna, you truly are a LifeStar role model!

September 2018 Colorado


Coach of the Month

Amy Johnson, an Open World Learning-(OWL) site teacher at Colfax Elementary in Denver, CO is our September Coach of the Month! Amy has taught The LifeStar Challenge program since fall 2017. She teaches the LifeStar Challenge lesson on Monday afternoons during a break from OWL’s session times. She has the kids decide as a group their “I Can Do It” goal, she gives all kids a paper star for motivation then on Thursday’s she follows up with them again as a group and gives a plastic star to those who (stated) met their goals.   We love Amy’s follow up method, dedication, and commitment to the program!


“The Healthy LifeStar program instills healthy decision making skills into children at an age where they are starting to make lifetime habit choices.”   Amy Johnson





Also check out the following quick video clip of Amy Johnson leading her OWL group of students at Colfax Elementary in the Wrap Up Cheer!


LifeStar Student of the Month

Daniela , Age 9, attends the Open World Learning (OWL) afterschool based program at Colfax Elementary, Denver CO.  Her site coach, Amy, recommended her because she had observed Daniela become more conscious about her eating choices during this past school year.  Daniela would come to the program the day after a Healthy LifeStar lesson and talk all about how she chose fruit over candy the night before. She also told Coach Amy that “I like trying new foods now too!” By the middle of the program she also made the choice to get up and play rather than sit and talk with her friends during free play days. Daniela is a LifeStar and choosing healthier habits as a result of The LifeStar Challenge!









July 2018 Update: Colorado Summer Fun!

June 2018 was a busy month in Colorado. We started the month by kicking off the program with new partner site, Foothills Park and Recreation. CO Division Director, Tami Anderson and her husband, Chef Mike led the activity which included introducing Healthy LifeStars’ The LifeStar Challenge program to parents and youth in attendance along with a cooking demo featuring two healthy summer salads, Island Mango Chicken Salad and Butterflies and Bows Pasta Salad. In addition to the program kick off, Tami & Chef Mike supported the program at Lily Gulch Recreation Center (Foothills Park and Recreation) through Cooking with Kids Classes during the S.T.E.A.M Summer Camp. The opening session included kids creating a foil packet dinner with vegetables, lean meats and cheese. During the breakfast session kids had the opportunity to make healthy breakfast burritos along with fruit & yogurt parfaits (sponsored by Foothills Parks and Recreation.


HLS also had the opportunity to partner with another new program partner, the Aurora YMCA. We trained 2 different teen groups, Leaders in Training and Summer of Service. Both groups of teens went through approximately 5 hours of training to learn the The LifeStar Challenge (TLC) program. These teens will be mobilized in July to teach the program to younger students at Aurora YMCA summer camps. While there were lots of learnings the best part was seeing the youth practice putting it all together for when they take it out in July to the younger kids! Involving teens in the advancement and growth of TLC serves a variety of purposes: Peer to peer, younger kids may be more motivated and empowered to follow teen role models; Teens gain and develop new skills (they may tap into skills they never knew they had!); Learn more about importance of healthy eating, physical activity, goal setting, creating healthy habits; and provides opportunities for social emotional development. The leadership at Aurora YMCA and HLS believe this is a win-win for both organizations. Our goal is to continue to build on this model and expand to after-school based teen leader programs within the YMCA and other youth-based organizations.

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