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Craig firefighters raise more than $8K during Fill the Boot campaign

CRAIG — Firefighter boots filled with spare change overflowed as the community helped to raise $8,420.11 in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 

The effort “raised the highest amount to date,” said Krystal Price, whose son, JP Price, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

With the help of more than 100,000 firefighters across the county, in a tradition that began in 1954, MDA is “Giving Muscular Dystrophy the Boot.” The organization uses funds for research, care centers, to send kids with muscular dystrophy to summer camp, and to support local families facing the disease.

“For more than 60 years, Fill the Boot has been a strong firefighter tradition, giving families with muscular dystrophy in hometowns across America hope for the future and support for today,” according to firefighters.mda.org website.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.

About one-third of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy — the most common form — don’t have a family history of the disease, possibly because the gene involved may be subject to sudden abnormal change — spontaneous mutation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There’s no cure for muscular dystrophy, but medications and therapy can help manage symptoms and slow the progress of the disease.

“Firefighters have played a major role in funding research for muscular dystrophy and in the last year, three promising new drugs received FDA approval,” states firefighters.mda.org.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Smoke warning remains in place for Northwest Colorado

CRAIG  — An air quality advisory has been issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the northwestern part of Moffat County from Sunday until the morning of Monday, Sept. 17.

Locations impacted by wildfire smoke include, but are not limited to Sunbeam, Greystone, and Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge.

“If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.  Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present. Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill. If visibility is less than five miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy,” states the warming. 

The Boone Draw and Three Wash Fires in northwestern Moffat County are expected to produce periods of moderate to heavy smoke through Monday morning.  By Sunday afternoon, high winds and dry conditions will likely lead to active fire conditions.  Smoke from the fires will generally move to the northeast.  Late Sunday night and early Monday morning, periods of moderate to heavy smoke can once again be expected for locations along and near Highway 318 to the west of Sunbeam.

For the latest Smoke Outlook, visit:

For more information about smoke and your health, visit:

For the latest Colorado statewide air quality conditions, forecasts, and advisories visit:

Memorial Regional Health: Fight childhood obesity with smarter nutrition, more physical activity

More than 18 percent of American children are obese, putting them at greater risk of facing a lifetime of obesity and its many negative consequences. In Colorado, more than 27 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.

Overall obesity rates remain higher than they were a generation ago, but the rise in rates has "slowed in recent years following decades of sharp increases starting in the early 1970s," according to The 2018 State of Obesity report, citing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"Children who are overweight or have obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. As such, targeting interventions that will help families and young children have access to healthy, affordable foods and safe places for physical activity is a promising strategy for addressing America's obesity epidemic," the report says. "Like adults, most children in the United States are not eating enough nutritious foods or getting sufficient physical activity."

Move more

One of the best interventions parents can use to encourage better habits is to lead by example. This includes limiting any sort of screen time and removing screens from the bedroom and kitchen, said Kevin Monahan, pediatric physician assistant at Memorial Regional Health.

"Encourage any sort of activity that involves movement — team sports, going to a park, playground, walking/biking, dog walking," Monahan said. "Ideally, aim for 60 minutes of exercise daily, but any movement, in my mind, is good movement."

Genetics play a role in a child's weight and overall body structure, but not so much so that obesity can't be prevented, he added.

"It is best if the whole family incorporate healthy eating habits and exercising," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per day for children. About 57 percent of the children in Colorado do not meet physical activity recommendations, according to the Colorado Child Health Survey. It’s important to note that children can get exercise in many ways, not just from what we’d consider formal exercise.

Eat smarter

Children are more likely to meet fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations if their parents do and if their family eats meals together at least once a day,” according to the Colorado Child Health Survey.

Health experts recommend that, in addition to an hour of physical activity per day, children need at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day, few to no sugar-sweetened beverages, two hours or less of screen time, and nine to 12 hours of sleep, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"Encourage five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day," Monahan said. "Push water, and limit sugar-laden drinks, like juices and sodas. Decrease high-calorie snacks."

Promoting good sleeps habits can also help, Monahan said. Nine to 10 hours of sleep per night can decrease the risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Childhood obesity increases the risk for high blood pressure, breathing problems, and joint and muscle pain. Obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, facing greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, according to Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. Some experts believe childhood obesity can also cause gastrointestinal problems, such as fatty liver disease, acid reflux, and gallstones. Childhood obesity has also been associated with anxiety and depression, low self esteem and social problems, such as bullying and feeling stigmatized.

Air quality health advisory in effect for Northwest Moffat County

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Thursday, Sept. 13, issued an air quality health advisory due to wildfire smoke in the northwestern parts of Moffat County.

The areas affected include Sunbeam, Greystone, and Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge. The advisory went into effect at 2 p.m. and will continue until 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

If smoke becomes thick, the department advises residents to remain indoors. People with heart disease or respiratory illnesses, as well as the very young and elderly, are advised to remain indoors until the advisory is lifted. The department also advises limiting outdoor activities when heavy smoke is present and temporarily relocating if smoke is present indoors or causes illness. If smoke is visible within 5 miles, it has likely reached unhealthy levels.

The wildfires in Northwestern Moffat County are expected to produce periods of heavy smoke through Friday morning. Additional smoke from fires burning in Utah are also possible. The most heavily impacted areas are along Colorado Highway 318 west of Sunbeam to the Utah state line.

Grief support group to begin Tuesday, Sept. 18

CRAIG — Northwest Colorado Health will host "Facing the Mourning," a grief education and support group, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 18 through Oct. 16 at the Northwest Colorado Health Yampa Avenue office, 485 Yampa Avenue.

The group is open to individuals who are coping with the loss of a friend or loved one and have not attended this group in the past. For more information, call Sandy Beran at 970-871-7682.

Voices for Recovery: Feed your body, feed your soul during National Recovery Month

Editor's note: In observance of September as National Recovery Month, the Craig Press will publish a four-part wellness series focusing on mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Following is the second column in the series.

Sarah Valentino,
regional behavioral health educator for Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership.

Mental health problems are often depicted as emotional struggles, existing "all in your head," but the body and mind are intricately connected in ways scientists are still exploring. For many in recovery, therapy often goes beyond support groups and medication; it often involves lifestyle changes.

Your emotions, behaviors, and thoughts are rooted in your brain and nervous system; the foods you eat affect neurotransmitters and hormones that send messages to and from different parts of your brain and body. Thus, changing what you feed your body can be one of the most foundational ways to "re-program" an unbalanced system.

What's on your plate?

We all know that poor diet can lead to major health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But did you know it is also linked to higher rates of depression? People who eat a diet high in processed, fried, and sugary foods have as much as a 60-percent increased risk for depression, according to research published in 2009 in the British Journal of Psychiatry and a 2017 study on dietary patterns and depression risk: a meta-analysis published in Psychiatry Research.

The great thing about improving your food choices is that it doesn't have to be expensive. Think of it like fashion choices: You don't have to wear fresh-off-the-runway looks from top designers to look stylish. Similarly, you don't have to buy expensive food delivery services or shop at specialty stores to improve your diet. Lean meats, eggs, legumes, whole grains, and fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are found at every grocery store.

Stress can cause sugar cravings, and this excess sugar, in turn, can wreak havoc on your digestive system, potentially causing more cravings and further physical and mental health problems.

This month, see if you can find all the sneaky ways you're ingesting extra sugar in your salad dressing, sports drinks, snack bars, pasta sauces, and even in your coffee. Break this cycle by cutting back and eating foods that support healthy gut bacteria. These include bananas, garlic, berries, apples, yogurt with active cultures, kombucha (fermented tea), and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.

What about alcohol?

Just like anything else you feed your body, alcohol can have a huge impact on your mental health. Low-risk drinking for women is defined as no more than three drinks per day and no more than seven drinks per week; for men, this is no more than four drinks per day and 14 per week.

Alcohol use causes a rush of feel-good chemicals, but over time, heavy use depletes your body's natural store of those neurotransmitters and makes your brain less sensitive to them, leading to heightened risk for depression and anxiety. On the other hand, people struggling with mental health problems are two to three times more likely to have a substance use disorder, as alcohol and other drugs may become a method of self-medication.

Substance use disorders affect almost one in 10 residents in Northwest Colorado. That's about 6,000 people across five counties.

So what can you do?

Contemplate your own habits, do an online risk screening, and practice moderation. If you, a friend, or family member want further information about recovery options and support, call Mind Springs Health at 970- 824-6541.

There are many paths to wellness and recovery. For any physical symptoms, you should always consult your physician before making drastic changes to your lifestyle.

Stay tuned over the next two weeks to learn about exercise and the power of a good night's sleep.

To celebrate September as Recovery Month, view our full calendar of events at ncchealthpartnership.org/news/calendar.

Sarah Valentino is Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership’s regional behavioral health educator.

Living Well: Know signs to stop suicide — Suicide Awareness Prevention Week is Sept. 9 to 15

If you hear a friend say things, like, "My family would be better off without me," or "I don't want to live anymore," or "I just want to sleep forever," or "I can't do this anymore," it's time to perk up and really listen. These words are sometimes what people say instead of saying, "I want to kill myself." They are often said with just as much sincerity, but are easier to brush off. Recognizing these and other signs of suicide is the first important step in preventing suicide among family members and friends.

People coping with depression often feel as though they've been fighting a battle for a long time, and they are tired. They start thinking it might be easier to just stop fighting. Or, they feel like a burden on others. Some simply want the world to stop for a while so they can figure out the next best move after a traumatic event, such as a break up or the death of a loved one. Health issues can also bring on suicidal thoughts. It's good to know that when people receive the support they need to manage mental health issues of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or substance abuse, they can once again start engaging in life in a positive way.

Suicidal ideation can have a number of causes. Prolonged stress — such as stress caused by harassment, bullying, unemployment, chronic pain, or relationship problems — can contribute, as can stressful life events, such as divorce, loss, rejection, and financial crises, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In addition, those who have attempted suicide in the past, who have a family history of suicide, or who experienced abuse, neglect, or trauma in their lives, are also at a higher risk. Keep in mind that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people age 10 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so youth are especially vulnerable.

If you hear someone talking as if they are ready to give up, it's time to have an honest conversation. Ask to talk with them in private, so they can explain what's going on, and let them know you really care. Listen to what they have to say.

If you strongly suspect suicidal ideation, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. If so, encourage them to seek treatment. Try not to give advice, minimize their concerns, or sell them on living. Mostly, they need to know someone cares and receive encouragement to get help.

If the concern is immediate, stay with them. If guns are accessible in their home, ask if you can keep them until they are safe or take the key to the gun cabinet. Sit with them while they call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK), or take them to a nearby mental health provider or the Memorial Regional Health emergency room. The suicide prevention lifeline is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Did you know that, locally, the Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide organization provides suicide support to residents in the Yampa Valley? The group has suicide prevention advocates and offers free counseling to youth and adults, thanks to generous grants.

To learn more, visit steamboatsuicideprevention.com, or call 970-819-2232 or email repsteamboat@gmail.com.

Seatbelt challenge encourages Craig kids to buckle up

CRAIG — Treats, not tickets, were handed out during a recent seat belt challenge to encourage Craig kids to buckle up.

Coupons for a free ice cream cone from Bear Coal Soda Foundation were handed out to all high school students wearing their seat belts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the first week of school.

For the seat belt challenge last week, organizers handed out coupons for a free ice cream cone from Bear Coal Soda Fountain to all the high school kids wearing their seat belts when they left school on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

“We handed out statistics sheets with various types of statistics related to motor vehicle accidents and seat belt use, distracted driving, and more on Tuesday and Thursday,” said Memorial Regional Health Trauma Coordinator Megan O’Toole.

In addition to Memorial Regional Health staff, the Colorado State Patrol and Craig Police Department both participated in handing out the coupons and fact sheets.

After the seat belt challenge received positive feedback from students and various community members, partners began looking at ways to expand on it.

“We are really hoping we can be more involved in the community setting and provide education regarding the importance of seat belt use and minimizing distracted driving,” O’Toole said, adding that they hope to “provide some education in the Craig Middle School and the elementary schools.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

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Memorial Regional Health: Preventative screening crucial for protecting against cervical, prostate cancer — healthy lifestyle choices also play a major role

Editor's note: The following article is sponsored content from Memorial Regional Health.

For the best prevention methods against cervical and prostate cancers, doctors recommend making healthy lifestyle choices, as well as getting the appropriate health checkups throughout your lifetime.

It might seem like a broken record to suggest that healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of these types of cancers, but it turns out that a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent all sorts of medical conditions.

So, what does a "healthy lifestyle" entail? For starters, it includes a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and sleep, and avoiding things like heavy drinking, nicotine, and substance abuse. The Mayo Clinic, in its recommendations for prostate cancer prevention, defines a healthy diet as one that is low in fat, contains minimal meat and dairy products, an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and plenty of fish.

Risk factors

The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife, mostly in women younger than 50. Hispanic and African-American women have higher rates of HPV-associated cervical cancer than white and non-Hispanic women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For men, prostate cancer risk increases with age and is most common in North America, Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. Like cervical cancer, genetics play a role in overall risk, and prostate cancer also affects more African-Americans than other races. The American Cancer Society reports that African-American men are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, behind skin cancer, and it's the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer.

In addition to HPV, other factors for cervical cancer that put women at higher risk include smoking, a weakened immune system, chlamydia infection, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, obesity, long-term use of birth control pills, having three or more full-term pregnancies, and other factors. Family history is also believed to be a cause, with researchers suspecting that some women inherit a condition that makes them less able to fight off HPV infection than others.

In men, diets high in red meat and dairy products tend to lead to higher risk for prostate cancer, but other factors are less known. Research about whether vasectomies, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, smoking, chemical exposures, and other factors suggest inconclusive data about their impacts on overall prostate cancer risks.

Screenings and early detection

Thanks to advances in medicine, including regular gynecological screenings for women, the rate of cervical cancer death in the United States has decreased by more than 50 percent during the past 40 years.

While one in 41 American men will die of prostate cancer, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

For women who choose to skip regular exams, which include Pap smears or Pap tests, that decision could prevent early-stage, life-saving discoveries. The medical industry widely attributes the steep decline in cervical cancer deaths in the United States to the Pap test.

"The Pap (test) has been such a life changing test for women," said Dr. Scott Ellis, an OB/GYN at Memorial Regional Health in Craig. "But we tend to fall asleep sometimes and forget to do our regular health screenings."
Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted. In fact, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, affecting about 79 million Americans, according to the CDC.

In 2013, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed screening guidelines for cervical cancer. It now recommends screening begin at age 21, and that women age 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years. Women age 30 to 65 should have a Pap test every five years.

Ellis doesn't agree with the new regulations for screening and still recommends women be screened annually.

"It used to be age 18 and every year after, or as soon as a woman became sexually active," he said. "I think a woman should have a Pap every year, so we can find abnormalities early and treat them in their earliest stage."

For men, the American Cancer Society recommends talking with your health care provider about certain risk factors. Generally, men who are at average risk should get a screening at age 50. Men with a high risk should seek testing at age 45, and men with a very high risk — someone with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age — should seek testing at age 40.

Prostate cancer screening begins with a blood test that measures the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood. If the test is abnormal, a biopsy would be done to determine if cancer is present.

Voices for recovery: National recovery month focuses on recovery from mental health issues, substance use disorders

Editor’s note: In observance of September as National Recovery Month, the Craig Press will publish a four-part wellness series focusing on mental,l emotional, and behavioral health. Following is the first article in the series.

Across a lifetime, one in two people experience a mental disorder that affects his or her thinking, emotions, or behavior and impacts the ability to work or go to school, carry out daily activities, and engage in satisfying relationships. That means, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2013  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, half our population struggles with mental health at some point in their lives, whether it be anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, substance use disorders, or a co-occurrence of these disorders.

Sarah Valentino,
Regional Behavioral Health Educator for Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership

SAMHSA recognizes September as National Recovery Month, which celebrates the successes of those in recovery from mental health problems, including substance use disorders. The Health Partnership Serving Northwest Colorado supports the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. Along with several educational events this month, this is part one of a four-part wellness series to explore a few different ways to work on your own mental, emotional, and behavioral health.

While self-help strategies should not take the place of professional help (especially in crisis situations), they can be a valuable tool for people who are already managing recovery or for those looking for new ways to find wellness in their everyday lives.

Did you know that loneliness poses as great a health risk as smoking cigarettes or obesity? Social isolation can be detrimental to your physical health, leading to shortened lifespan, and it can also put you at greater risk for mental health problems. Listed below are some ways to get involved in your community, meet new people, and explore new interests.

Show love for others by volunteering 

While it's a great way to earn good citizen points, volunteering is also one of the most powerful self-help strategies around. Initially, some volunteers fear the added obligation will make them feel more stressed, but research shows that finding the right place to volunteer has the opposite effect: lowering anxiety and depression, providing a sense of purpose, and supporting a sense of optimism. Following are four Moffat County organizations that are always glad to have more volunteers:

• Horizons Specialized Services: Contact through horizonsnwc.org or call Jes McMillan at 970-824-7804.

• Moffat County United Way: unitedwaymoffat.org.

• Community Kitchen at St. Michael's: Call Robin at 970-824-3252.

• Humane Society of Moffat of Moffat County: humanesocietyofmoffatcounty.org.

Make laughter a daily habit

Laughter is so simple and yet so easy to forget to add into your daily routine. Research has proven the powerful effect of laughter on your mood, energy, mental focus, creativity, and ability to problem solve. Even better, laughter can be a great way to form new friendships and nurture old ones. Get yourself on a daily cat video routine. Download an app that tells you jokes. Or go vintage and read some comics.

Connect groups or a sports league

As we grow older, work and chores tend to take up more of our time, and we often forget the incredible value of exploring hobbies and the simple joy of play. Join a book club. Discover geocaching with a friend. Become the town cribbage champion. Just go play. Following are a couple of places to look.

• City of Craig Parks & Recreation: ci.craig.co.us/departments/parks_recreation.

• CNCC community classes: cncc.edu/ce-c.

There are many paths to wellness and recovery. Stay tuned over the next three weeks to learn about feeding your body for your mental health, exercise, and the power of a good night's sleep.

To celebrate September as Recovery Month, view our full calendar of events at ncchealthpartnership.org/news/calendar.

Sarah Valentino is Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership’s regional behavioral health educator.