Spotlight Blog


Did someone say a FREE Park Pass?

Posted by letsgo on July 15, 2014

Let’s Go! thrives thanks to our partners. We’re lucky to have support from the Maine State Bureau of Parks and Lands and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. This guest blog from one partner celebrates another partner. This is how communities come together to effect change.

Authored by Karen Voci, President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation 

Summer is here and that means long hot sunny days and cool nights – and lots of family adventures along the way!

There are so many ways to keep active during the summer – swimming, hiking, bike riding, running.  One place you can experience all of these activities is at a Maine State Park.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation has partnered with Let’sGo! and the Mainepass pic2 Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands to make 10,000 Maine State Parks passes available to patients at primary care practices affiliated with Let’sGo!. The free pass is accepted at any of Maine’s 48 state parks and historic sites (with the exception of Baxter State Park), and it’s good through the end of the year. No excuses!


 We want to help prevent childhood obesity by creating healthy opportunities for children and their family to stay active. Through the Foundation’s support, Let’s Go! is encouraging doctors to promote the 5-2-1-0 messaging with their patients, and focus on ways to build a lifetime of wellness. These free park passes make it affordable for families to enjoy the great outdoors and embrace an active and healthy way of life.

Enjoying the great Maine outdoors – its beautiful natural resources and its many recreational opportunities – is a gift.  Keep your family healthy all summer long starting with a fun visit to a Maine State Park.  And don’t forget the healthy snacks!


Obstacles Can Be Overcome

Posted by letsgo on July 1, 2014

When Kate shared the following story with us we knew we had to share it with you all. It’s easy to celebrate success but we don’t always reflect on the challenges. Kate’s story reminds us that obstacles can be overcome and that your child’s health is worth your persistence. Thanks Kate

Authored by: Kate Allerding, Maine Parent

My son, Shanon, has been attending Before & After Care and Summer Camp through the Westbrook, Maine Community Center since he was in Kindergarten (he’s going into 5th grade next year), and I have a history of being dissatisfied with their healthy eating/active living choices for the kids (TV first thing in the morning, Capri Sun “ice packs” so they have a treat when it melts, etc.) so I was thrilled when they became a Let’s Go! site at the beginning of the school year.  The Capri Suns went away and TVs were turned off among other things. However, there was still one thing that drove me batty- the very accessible Café in the Community Center that has all the chips, candy, and soda/energy drinks/bug juice that a child could want.

Kate and Shanon at the Color Run

Kate and Shanon at the Color Run

You see, last year at summer camp, children were allowed to bring money to spend at the Café where they bought chips, candy, and sugary drinks for lunch.  This practice continued even after they became a Let’s Go! site (but only during vacation camps). So, in November of last year, I finally decided to reach out to the Children’s Program Coordinator at the Community Center and spoke to him about my concerns around their inconsistent policies.  I wanted to understand why, in the course of 1 week, children could be allowed to have candy and sugary drinks with their lunch during a vacation camp day and the very next day, a normal school day, these things weren’t allowed.  I was told that unfortunately, vacation & summer camps are different from the After School program and weren’t held to the same Let’s Go! standards.  Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with that answer- so I joined the Westbrook 21st CCLC Advisory Board, continued to ask questions, and push the importance of messaging consistency.

You can imagine my surprise (which inspired an impromptu dance in my dining room) when I reached page 6 of the Family Summer Camp Guide - not only did they hear my concerns; they found a way to incorporate their Let’s Go!  after school strategies into their non-Let’s Go! out-of-school program AND got the café on board.  Just plain AWESOME!!!


Good Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed

Posted by letsgo on June 25, 2014

Authored by: Heidi Kessler, Let’s Go! Senior Program Manager

aThe American Hospital Association (AHA) announced today that Maine Medical Center is being awarded for its collaborative efforts to improve community health with the 2014 NOVA Award.

Each year the AHA honors 5 hospitals across the nation for their effective, collaborative programs focusing on community health. The Award acknowledges Let’s Go! and the program’s unique elements such as our multi-sector model, 5-2-1-0 message and innovative approach to implementation.

We’re proud to be a program of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and thrilled that Maine Medical Center is being noticed for demonstrating how working with partners in the community can improve the health and wellness of the people and patients that hospitals serve.

Let’s Go! is a statewide program with many partners and this award is a true reflection of how strong statewide partnerships can positively impact our communities. Working with health systems, health coalitions and communities we can effect change, preventing childhood obesity from becoming the norm.

The AHA will present the award July 22 at a ceremony during the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego. Photos, video and updates from the event to come. In the meantime, please join us in congratulating Maine Medical Center and all Let’s Go! partners on this prestigious distinction! 

To learn and read the article more please visit


Innovative ways to support our partners in the fight against childhood obesity

Posted by letsgo on June 20, 2014

Authored by: Emily Walters, Let’s Go! Healthcare Program Manager

We’re always looking for ways to support our partners. Earlier this year we saw a need for interactive, educational tools and by May we had developed, piloted and introduced a series of free online courses. Healthcare professionals and child care providers can now visit our website to obtain strategies for helping children and families develop healthy behaviors.Module

Next Steps for the Healthcare Professional

The epidemic of childhood obesity is one of the most challenging public health issues of our time.  Evidence based guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are thorough but difficult to implement in practice. Our Next Steps online course consists of 22 modules of 10 minutes or less and complements the existing Next Steps Guide.

Themes range from portion sizes and healthy drinks to physical activity and understanding healthy foods.  We aim to equip pediatric providers with effective, evidence-based tools to guide their patients to better health. Maine Medical Center designates this educational activity for a maximum of 5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ and credits are given after completion of all modules. And a special thanks to the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation for thier financial support.

Knowledge for the Child Care Provider

Let’s Go! believes everyone can play a role in reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. The early childhood trainings are designed to educate child care providers on physical activity and nutrition-related topics for young children. There are currently 4 different modules available on: the history and causes of the obesity epidemic, physical activity for young children, nutrition for young children, and support for breastfeeding families. Each module varies in length from about 30 minutes to 1 hour and is followed by a knowledge-enhancing quiz and certificate of licensing contact hours.

For more information on Let’s Go!’s course offerings visit the “Online Trainings” section of our site.


Healthy Food in Maine Hospitals? Check!

Posted by letsgo on May 29, 2014

PuzzleBckgd [Converted]Authored by Emily Kain, Let’s Go! Dissemination Program Manger 

As part of our multi-sector approach to obesity prevention, we work in many sites: schools, daycares, healthcare practices etc. Now, in partnership with MaineHealth, we’re working with local hospitals to make sure the places that help us stay healthy are living healthy every day. Let’s Go! brings you Check Plus!, an easy way to identify the new healthy foods and beverages available in hospitals across the state.

Whether you work at one of the participating hospitals or find yourself visiting, you’ll have new healthy options and signage to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Look for Check Plus!, a green Check Plus label, sticker or sign that identifies healthy options throughout the cafeteria based on guidelines from the Hospital Healthy Food Initiative.

Maine Medical Center was the first hospital to pilot the Check Plus system in March of 2014.  Their food service staff and dieticians worked together to put up signage across the cafeteria highlighting their healthiest options. We’re giving Maine Medical Center kudos for their dedication and commitment to improving the health of their employees, patients and community members!

It’s always exciting to see positive change happening in our communities. Is your local hospital one of the ten in Maine currently participating?

Check Plus

  • Southern Maine Health Care, Biddeford Medical Center
  • Southern Maine Health Care, Sanford Medical Center
  • Lincoln County Healthcare
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Mid Coast Hospital
  • Pen Bay Medical Center
  • Spring Harbor Hospital
  • St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center
  • Stephens Memorial Hospital
  • Waldo County General Hospital

For more information visit


Plan for a Screen Free Weekend

Posted by letsgo on May 8, 2014

Authored by Caitlin Loveitt, Let’s Go! Home Officesfw_logoforflyer

Monday marked the kickoff of Screen Free Week, a week-long celebration that encourages children to go screen free. Many of us remember this experience as a week-long challenge to simply stop watching television, since prior to 2010 – when the name was changed to better reflect our technological enabled environment – it was better known as TV Turn Off Week.

Today, children are watching shows on laptops, surfing social media sites on tablets and playing games on smartphones – spending more than 7 hours a day connected to a screen. Sure, some of what children do in front of a screen is productive. However, the majority of those 7 hours are unproductive and worse, unhealthy. In March, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics reported that parents who set limits on screen time can expect positive results for their children – better sleep, improved grades and lower risk for obesity.

We know there is a strong association between increased screen time and increased BMI which is why we recommend less than 2 hours of screen time as part of our 5-2-1-0 message. If you and your family turned the TV off, shut down tablets and docked your phones on Monday give yourselves a round of applause. And if you’re like me (and probably in the majority) it’s not too late to partake in Screen Free Week. Start now by planning a screen free weekend.

Activity-Log jpgDownload this weekend activity log to plan your non-screen activities. We recommend outdoor adventures – go for a nature walk, plant a garden or make a fort. And if it rains? Write a play, have a dance party or make and taste test different fruit smoothies.

Now is a great time to begin creating new habits around the screens in your lives. Disconnect and get creative.

For more suggestions on activities click here to watch Let’s Go! on Monday’s edition of 207.



Spring into Action!

Posted by letsgo on May 2, 2014

Authored by Karen Voci, President, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

It’s SPRING!!  It’s finally spring – after one of the longest and coldest winters on record.  The air is warming, birds are singing and there are green things on the trees.

It’s time to GET OUTSIDE!  And that goes for everyone in the family – especially our kids – who probably have spent way too much time with technology on those school cancellation days when snow squalled and temperatures hit the minuses.

Here are some ideas to get you moving:BriarwoodsChildcareGarden

  • Clean up your yard or volunteer with your kids to help clean a local park or trail.  The winter has not been kind to grass and trees.  An hour or so raking and bagging is a good and easy work out that shows results and gets our favorite outdoor places ready for the season.


  • Take a family walk around your neighborhood, or park or Audubon nature trail.  See who can spot the first flowers, new birds, or other signs of spring.  Take photos and send to grandparents or other friends or relatives.



  • Spring means baseball season. Organize a neighborhood practice and game.  Don’t forget healthy snacks and plenty of water.


  • Explore a local Farmers Market.  They are gearing up for the start of the summer season and vendors are happy to let you taste a new vegetable or give advice on growing your own.  You can even buy plants for your own gardens or pots.


The important thing to remember is to just get outside with your kids and have fun!  Stretch those muscles after a long winter, breathe the fresh air again and do your whole family a world of good.



Children are Watching You!

Posted by letsgo on April 24, 2014

Authored by Adrienne Gallant, Let’s Go! Knox County Coordinator

A couple of months ago, I was feeling under the weather. I was forced to stay upstairs in my room secluded from the rest of my family so as not to contaminate them with my germs. My throat was feeling awful and my stomach wasn’t so great either. I did what many people do when they’re sick. I drank a can of ginger ale. My daughter, who is almost seven, saw the empty can (along with a cup of tea and a glass of water) on my bedside table and exclaimed “Mommy, we don’t drink soda in our house! It’s not healthy!” She was quite appalled at the thought that I was drinking something that she knows is not the best option for our bodies. She hears me talk with families, childcare providers, teachers and community members all the time about healthy eating as part of my job as the Let’s Go! CoordinatBlog Picor for Knox County. Her exclamation made me smile because I knew she was listening but it reinforced the fact that she is also watching. She is not the only child who watches what the adults in her life are saying and doing. So many children have caregivers in their lives (mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, babysitters) who make choices everyday about how they are going to act. In many cases, the lessons being taught to the child and the actions displayed by the adults are contradictory.

In Knox County, where I live, the schools, childcares, healthcare professionals and after school programs are doing an incredible job with teaching the children they come into contact with about making healthy eating and physical activity choices. For the most part, the adults running these programs are also modeling healthy behaviors in front of the children. These adults often are trying to find new ways to improve their own behaviors to help encourage healthy choices in the children and the parents they come into contact with.

Children watch and learn from what they see adults doing. A child who learns at school that it’s important to get away from the television, get plenty of physical activity and not drink soda will feel confused when they go home and see their parents sitting in front of the television drinking sugary beverages. A parent’s actions and attitudes (positive or negative) towards healthy choices can have an impact on the health related choices children in their lives make now and in the future.

For more information on healthy eating, physical activity and being a healthy role model to the children in your life, check out our Parent Resource Page.


Celebrate Easter in Good Health

Posted by letsgo on April 16, 2014

Authored by Reegan Brown Let’s Go! Program Coordinator

Easter is just around the corner…what’s one of the first things that often comes to mind for our children this holiday? You may find it’s the Easter treats! Easter traditions like Easter baskets and egg hunts are a fun and favorite event among kids of all ages, and yet much of the time these and other traditions can leave our children with an overwhelming amount of sugary snacks. If your household has always included plenty of chocolate bunnys, peeps and other candy at your celebration, it can be really difficult to change things up for healthier options. But if you want to start making new family traditions that are healthier without sacrificing any of the fun, there are things you can do THIS YEAR to start changing things up. Try adopting some of these tips into your Easter celebration to not only limit the sugar crashes your kids experience but still keep your Easter holiday fun and delicious.

Tips for Easter Baskets:

• Items inside an Easter basket do not need to be edible; try a jump rope, ball, new book, bookmarks, playdough or sidewalk chalk

• Consider home-made goodies instead of store purchased

• If you choose to purchase candy, smaller and less is better. Try only including a small amount of a candy you know is your child’s absolute favorite.


easter-13646_640Tips for Easter Egg Hunts:

• Fill eggs with written ‘passes’ that include fun physical activities. For example: “Free Pass to the…Park, Pool, Beach, Playground” etc.

• Fill eggs with bunny graham crackers, dried fruit, nuts, or popcorn 

• Fill each egg with a clue about the next egg’s location and an “action” that needs to be done while looking for the next egg. For example, hop like a bunny, waddle like a baby chick, etc.

• Fill eggs with spare change for your kid’s piggy banks or ‘kindness coins’

Do an internet search of “healthy alternatives for Easter baskets and egg hunts” and you’ll have plenty of ideas to choose from! Remind your kids what this holiday is all about and try making your Easter a healthier one for the years to come.



Do You Know What Your Child’s Cafeteria is Serving?

Posted by letsgo on April 3, 2014

Authored by: Reegan Brown Let’s Go! Program Coordinator

With updated standards from the USDA, school meals across the nation are changing for the better. Cafeterias are being stocked with healthier options and teachers and school staff are playing an important role in the success of school lunch. Here’s one example of how Maine is making changes.

On March 18th, students at Alfred Elementary left their cafeteria with a belly full of nutritious food and a smile on their face. Like many other days throughout the school year, Superintendent Dr. John Davis had just finished serving students homemade turkey dogs or “pigs in a blanket” (complete with whole wheat dough) alongside RSU #57 School Nutrition Director, Lynnette Harriman. Dottie Janotta, Administrative Assistant for the school nutrition program, was wrapping up her time spent greeting students at the salad bar to assist them with serving fresh carrots, corn and kiwi slices.

“Being that I’m new to the district, serving lunch at the schools gives students the opportunity to meet me while also providing a chance for me to understand what challenges our nutrition staff are facing so I can help with strategies for improvement.” commented Dr. Davis.

While Dr. Davis interacted with each of the 150 students who participated in school lunch, Kitchen Manager, Cris Morison and Baker/Cook, Vanessa Richardson circulated the cafeteria with a new chickpea recipe for students to taste test.

“These are so yummy!” exclaimed two 1st graders, Ella and Chelsea while others combined their chickpeas with the corn on their plates for a tasty combination. Let’s Go! York County commends RSU #57 for embracing these changes and setting a good example for how school cafeterias can encourage children’s healthy choices.