PORTLAND, Maine – Memorial Hospital and MaineHealth’s Let’s Go! childhood wellness program honored 10 schools, seven out-of-school programs, four child care programs, and three health care practices in the Mount Washington Valley region of Carroll County for making a positive impact on children’s health. A total of 24 sites are implementing the program’s five evidence-based strategies to increase healthy eating and active living. Normally Let’s Go! Mount Washington Valley presents sites with recognition certificates at a planned in-person celebration where site champions can get together to share their successes and challenges. Due to COVID-19, the group is not able to get together in person but met via Zoom to share their successes, challenges and tips for success.
With the goal of healthy students in mind, last years’ survey results represent a 42% increase in recognition level jumps for sites; meaning across every level, sites are implementing priority strategies, communicating Let’s Go! messages and also have policies in place to support healthy eating and active living. The program also expanded its reach by 5 percent.
“The Let’s Go! model has been a successful partnership throughout the Mount Washington Valley because each and every one of our partners has taken the simple evidence-based strategies and created innovative ways to promote healthy behaviors for students and families,” said Heather Phillips, Community Health and Let’s Go! Coordinator at Memorial Hospital. “Their enthusiasm, and commitment to make it fun, and easy to implement is evidenced by the continued overall improvement in our community’s health; and we are truly seeing a shift as students see these wellness strategies as the norm.”
“Let’s Go! is proud to partner with over 1,600 sites to promote healthy changes in the places where children and families live, learn, work, and play,” said Tory Rogers, M.D., senior director of Let’s Go!. “Our partners play a crucial role in the success of this program and they work hard every day to encourage healthier choices throughout our communities.”
Let’s Go! sites in Carroll County are committed to making it easier for children to eat well and be active. 86 percent limit or eliminate sugary drinks and promote water as the drink of choice, 80 percent prohibit the use of food as a reward, and 70 percent limit unhealthy choices during snacks and celebrations, focusing on alternatives. Additionally, 87 percent of evaluated sites provide opportunities for physical activity outside of recess on a daily basis.
Out-of-School Community Partner, Jeff Beavers, Assistant Director Conway Public Library, says of their Let’s Go! To The Library & Let’s Go! Make Something Programs have been greatly successful. “Memorial Hospital has given us the opportunity to explore library programs we hadn't considered possible. We all want to make the Mount Washington Valley a healthier and happier place to live. The afterschool program we were able to host became a community-wide connection we look forward to continuing.”
Lisa White, Food Service Director, Jackson Grammar School shared, “Jackson Grammar School been fortunate to work with Memorial Hospital's Let's Go Program over the years. They are extremely generous in supporting our goal of healthy students. They have helped us host a Wellness Fair, plus provided water bottle filling stations and water bottles, yoga mats and snowshoes. Thank you, Heather and Memorial Hospital!”
Introduced in 2012, the Let’s Go! recognition program identifies and celebrates schools, out-of-school programs, and child care programs for their role in improving the health of all children. The program focuses on sustainable change. A Bronze award reflects a site implementing the program’s five evidence-based priority strategies. Silver acknowledges a site for implementing the five strategies and communicating Let’s Go! messages to parents and family members. Gold, the highest level of recognition, is reserved for sites that have implemented the strategies, communicated messages, and written all five strategies into policy.
Let’s Go! also recognizes school cafeterias and health care practices for the role they play in helping kids make healthy choices.
Let’s Go! partners with 1,600 sites across 292 towns. A listing of all recognized sites can be found at https://sites.letsgo.org/
About Let’s Go!
Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play. Let’s Go! is committed to promoting policy and environmental changes at child care programs, schools, out-of-school programs, health care practices, and workplaces. The program’s multi-setting approach, daily 5-2-1-0 message (five or more fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks) and 10 evidence-based strategies are used to effect change across the state of Maine. Strong leadership from The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and collaboration across health systems and community health coalitions contribute to the program’s success.
Going into its sixth year in Mount Washington Valley we are seeing the effects especially from those children having been introduced to Let’s Go! in their younger years.