Northern Colorado cares about supporting people Celebrate achievement. Train for a career with scholarship support. Empower young girls to be themselves. Connect children, youth and families experiencing mental-health and substance-abuse issues to helpful resources. Stay a step ahead of cancer by getting screened.

These are all messages reverberating through the northern Colorado community, which reflect its giving, caring spirit. Read on to learn more.

Fort Collins student named Distinguished Young Woman of Colorado 

Kate Fitzgerald, a Rocky Mountain High School student, has been named Distinguished Young Woman of Colorado for 2017. Young women across the nation participate in interviews, fitness, self expression, talent and scholastics resulting in scholarships for furthering their education. Fitzgerald was named the overall winner and placed first in the categories of fitness, and interviews, and talent, resulting in $1,750 in college scholarships.

Fitzgerald is a member of the National Honor Society, student council, peer counselors and DECA/FBLA. She hopes to attend the University of California–San Diego to study marine biology after graduation. She will join representatives from all 50 states this June in Mobile, Alabama, to participate in personal development activities and community service projects before competing for the opportunity to become the 2017 Distinguished Young Woman of America (previously known as America’s Junior Miss) and for additional cash scholarships.

McKee offers scholarships for medical pursuits

The McKee Scholarship Program is accepting applications for the 2017-2018 academic year for general medical education scholarships and Marge Schafer Nursing Scholarships. The program is open for students pursuing medical careers and who have a permanent address in the Thompson School District.

Ashley Kasprzak, McKee Medical Center Foundation fund development program specialist, says, "…the Foundation and the McKee Volunteer Leadership Council provide scholarships for students pursuing medical careers for multiple reasons. We want to foster a highly educated workforce that will consider working in healthcare in our region. Plus, we want to give back to community by supporting students. Healthcare offers a multitude of well-paying careers with high job satisfaction, yet it can take a great deal of resources to attain that career. The McKee Foundation wants to help defray some of the costs of higher education."

Applications are available online at www.mckeefoundation.com (click on Scholarships at the bottom of the page) and at the McKee Medical Center Foundation office. Completed applications must be emailed or submitted to the McKee Foundation by 5pm on March 10.

Empowering young women

Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center serving Larimer County is hosting a Young Empowered Women (YEW) program, a mentoring group that serves as a resource and network of support for girls ages 10 to 15. The group's goal is to empower young girls with their own potential to be leaders in their lives, as well as in their communities. 

"The YEW encourages girls to seek and celebrate their 'true selves' by giving them a safe space, encouragement, structure and support to embrace their important journey of self-discovery," says Ana Pasini, Voices Carry bilingual family advocate and prevention facilitator. "A strength-based approach helps girls identify and apply their power and voice as individuals and as a group, focusing on issues that are important in the lives of adolescent girls."

Topics to be discussed include learning about self, connecting with others, mindfulness, exploring healthy living and planning for the future. The aim of the program is to build confidence by applying new-found leadership abilities, passion, power and purpose and share it with the world.

The group meets on the third Thursday of each month from 6-8pm at Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center, 5529 S. Timberline Road in Fort Collins. There is no charge and dinner will be served. All 10- to 15-year-old girls are welcome.

CAYAC team connects families to mental health help

There's a new team in Larimer County. The CAYAC (Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Connections) Team is a partnership of the Health District of Northern Larimer County, SummitStone Health Partners, Poudre School District and other community resources. They work together to support local families struggling to find help for children who could be suffering from a mental illness or substance use disorder.

Parents sometimes are unsure if the behavioral issues their children are experiencing are just a “normal phase,” or the result of a developmental issue, mental illness or substance use, says Lin Wilder, director of the Healthy Mind Matters program at the Health District. “Parents looking for answers have told us that they didn’t know where to start, and that they often got little support in a process that can be very lengthy as a child grows and changes." The CAYAC team works to increase families’ access to assessment services that can pinpoint potential problems and smooth a path toward appropriate treatment, and then help connect families with treatment providers.

That team includes a child/adolescent psychiatrist; a child/adolescent clinical psychologist; a school liaison from Poudre School District’s mental health team; two care coordinators; mental health specialists; and a family support partner, an individual who has “walked in the shoes” of families seeking help and can offer support and guidance based on experience.

Major funding for the CAYAC Team comes from The Denver Foundation and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Children Youth and Families Branch. The Health District and SummitStone Health Partners also provide funding.

For more information, call 970-221-3308, Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. If you are experiencing a crisis, visit or call the SummitStone Walk-in Crisis Center (1217 Riverside Ave., Fort Collins; 970-494-4200), go to your nearest emergency room, or call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or 911. 

Free cancer screenings available to Weld County women

The Weld County Health Department now offers free cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to eligible women aged 21 through 64. The Department also offers free breast cancer screenings for women ages 40 to 64 who meet the same eligibility requirements.

“Many forms of cancer are preventable if women get screened early,” says Mark E. Wallace, Weld County Health Department executive director.

To qualify for free screenings, a woman must earn an income of no more that 2.5 times the federal poverty level (www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/eligibility-calculator), be legal US citizens, and have no health insurance or have health insurance with high deductibles or co-pays.

If a woman enrolled in the Women’s Wellness Connection is diagnosed with cancer, most will qualify for treatment through Health First Colorado’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. 

For more information about the Women’s Wellness Connection program at the Weld County Health Department, visit www.weldhealth.org or contact Samantha Wittrock, community health outreach worker, at 970-400-2400 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..