CONWAY — Memorial Hospital held a celebration on Nov. 15 to recognize 16 northern Carroll County schools, after-school programs, child care and health care practices for building environments in which unhealthy food choices are limited and opportunities for physical activity are plentiful. The 16 sites are prioritizing healthy habits by making the healthy choice the easy choice.
Let's Go! Mount Washington Valley presented sites with certificates at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway. President and CEO Scott McKinnon welcomed site representatives, including teachers, school nurses, doctors, nurses, business owners and after-school program coordinators. The evening recognized their work with Let's Go!, a program coordinated through Memorial Hospital's Population Health Department headed up by Sue Ruka and coordinated by Danielle Koffenberger. Memorial Hospital started its Population Health Department in 2015, in partnership with MaineHealth, in an effort to help their community become among the healthiest in America. Sites participating included:
Bartlett Community Preschool
Children Unlimited Inc.
Vaughan Learning Center
Lilliputian Montessori School
Home Run Sports Training Center
Madison Recreation Department
John Fuller School
Josiah Bartlett Elementary School
Kennett High School
Madison Elementary School
Pine Tree Elementary School
A. Crosby Kennett Middle School
Conway Elementary School
Jackson Grammar School
Primary Care at Memorial Hospital
White Mountain Community Health Center
T. Murray Wellness Center Inc.
"More and more communities embracing Let's Go!'s evidence-based strategies, and we're seeing a difference in the health of our children," said Dr. Victoria Rogers, director of the Let's Go! program. "Kids are shunning sugary drinks, grabbing fruit during lunch, and making better media choices. This is the first year we've officially recognized sites in Carroll County for making healthy eating and physical activity a priority, and I'm constantly impressed by their energy and hard work."
The Let's Go! recognition program identifies and celebrates schools, out-of-school programs, child care programs and health care practices for their role in improving the health of all children. The program focuses on sustainable change and therefore recognizes various levels leading up to policy change. Bronze reflects a site implementing the program's five, evidence-based priority strategies; silver acknowledges a site that has communicated these changes to parents and family members; and gold, the highest level of recognition, is reserved for sites that have written all five priority strategies into policy.
Reegan Brown, Let's Go! home office, MaineHealth implementation program manager, said: "I was incredibly impressed with the representation there from almost each and every one of your sites, covering all of the sectors of the Let's Go! program. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the work, and it was evident that the collaboration efforts being made are having a great impact on your community."
Site champion and Primary Care at Memorial Hospital provider Leona Cloutier, nurse practitioner, added "You all have done a tremendous job reaching out to our community and getting the program into so many aspects of our families' lives."
This year, Let's Go! is recognizing a total of 657 sites across Maine and in select New Hampshire communities. A list of all 2016 Let's Go! recognized sites is available at www.letsgo.org.
Child care, school and out-of-school sites are recognized for three levels of commitment to Let's Go!'s five priority strategies:
1. Limit unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations; provide healthy choices.
2. Limit or eliminate sugary beverages; provide water.
3. Prohibit the use of food as a reward.
4. Provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
5. Limit recreational screen time.
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 changing environments and policies at child cares, schools, out-of-school programs, health care practices, workplaces and communities. 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 states of Maine and New Hampshire. 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.