Spotlight Blog

 

Get the Facts and Give School Lunch a Chance

Posted on August 20, 2015
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It’s time, time to start preparing for the school year. For many this means shopping for new clothes and classroom supplies and making decisions about how to tackle lunch for your little one. Parents are busy and mornings are hectic so why not enjoy the added convenience of school lunch?

Maine schools are leading the nation when it comes to healthy lunch options. Not only is the food more nutritious than in years past but school cafeterias are making it easier than ever for students to make healthy choices. By implementing changes such as these, the healthy choice becomes the easy choice. 

  1. School_Lunch_Photo1Fruit is always in at least two locations –increasing fruit selection by 103%.
  2. New and improved salad bars – Colorful salad bars located front and center increases student selection 200-300%.
  3. Milk is in the front of every cooler and water is easy to find – students are more likely to grab what’s in front of them.
  4. Students are involved in lunchroom improvements. For example, they influence the menu by taste testing and assist in the development of creative, descriptive names for food items (i.e., x-ray vision carrots). Renaming food items alone can triple consumption.

See for yourself by viewing our new PSA

Parents can feel good about giving up the bag lunches. A 2014 study conducted by Tufts University found that today’s school lunch is often healthier than the food in children’s lunchboxes. Lunches brought from home rarely include vegetables and are likely to contain packaged foods, sugary beverages, desserts, and more calories overall.

Advances in school nutrition mean a well-balanced, nutrient rich meal for less than $3 a day. When kids eat well it means that they can get back to learning feeling energized.  Take advantage of the healthy changes in your child’s cafeteria and give school lunch another chance. 

 


Funding Helps Boost Community Wellness

Posted on August 12, 2015
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The statewide success of Let’s Go! depends on Coordinators across Maine. Earlier this year we were able to invest $55,000 back into Maine communities through mini grants. Our objective was to provide funds to Let’s Go! sites to make sustainable changes for children of Maine communities. To accomplish this we asked our regional coordinators to identify local needs and provide funding to registered sites looking to improve the level of activity and healthy eating for children.

We were able to provide 94 sites with mini-grant funds, 36 of whom were schools, 22 were out-of-school programs and 36 were child care sites.  

Below are a few highlights of how this funding was put to use.

CorpesLet’s Go! Oxford provided funding to University of Maine 4H Camp and Learn
ing Center at Bryant Pond, a Let’s Go! out-of-school site, to support the Oxford Country Conservation Corps. The Oxford County Conservation Corp is a four week outdoor skills, leadership and job-training program for High School students.

The crew from Oxford County Conservation Corp got plenty of physical activity working five days a week this summer building trails in the Bethel and Oxford Hills areas.  


lYouthlink, an out-of-school site in Knox purchased new gardening material. These upgraded tools are being utilizing to expand Youthlink’s garden. With better gardening tools they will to be able to donate more food to food pantries and soup kitchens. They are making it a priority to provide everyone with five or more fruits and veggies a day.


 Lets’s Go! Cumberland contributed funds tlo Healthy Rivers who helped cover the cost of a new rock wall for Memorial Middle School. With more opportunities to be physically active, kids spend less time behind the screen.



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Somerset funded ‘The Sugar Sweetened Beverage Challenge’ created at Madison Junior High.  Students from Madison made an effort to inform staff and students about sugary beverages by creating a sugar bottle display. A powerful visual, the display showed how much sugar is in popular drinks. The message was delivered on bulletin boards around the school and on a new display system, partially funded by their Let’s Go! mini grant. Madison Junior High now knows the benefits of hydrating with water.

 

 

Ask your child care provider, school or healthcare practice, if they partner with Let’s Go! and look for ways to get involved. Sites always need extra hands and healthy snacks, together we can all offer Maine youth a healthier lifestyle.  

 


The Summer Paradox

Posted on July 23, 2015
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Many families enjoy Maine’s warm summer weather by scheduling time for outside activities. Summer is full of physical activity, right? Play dates, beach days, summer camps. Well, contrary to what many of us believe, our kids are actually less active during the summer months. 

Studies show that kids have less structure throughout the summer, which means more down time, and down time for today’s youth is often synonymous with screen time. When you pair less physical activity with ample opportunities to eat and snack over the course of the day, healthy habits developed during the school year suddenly fade.

Here are our favorite Healthy Snack Ideas for Busy Summer Days and Easy Outdoor Activities for Summer Fun.

Healthy Snack Ideas for Busy Summer Days:

  • Cut up a watermelon and package bite size pieces
    before placing on a low, kid-friendly shelf in your fridge. Have a little more time? Slice through the entire watermelon so when laid flat it mimics a pizza, then add toppings (berries, bananas, coconut etc. ) before slicing and serving.
  • Skip the soda and add blueberry extract to sparkling water, what child doesn’t love blue food?
  • Popcorn, it’s a whole grain. The healthiest version is air popped but you can also make your own microwaveable popcorn: place 3 tablespoons of kernels in a brown bag, roll it up, and pop in the microwave.
  • Traveling and need a snack, don’t be afraid to stop at a convenient store. You can probably find fruit, greek yogurt, healthy granola bars and more.
  • Mix up your favorite smoothie before running out the door. An added bonus of smoothies to go? No crumbs.

Easy Outdoor Activities for Summer Fun:

  • Introduce a new weekend routine, such as family bike ride, and take a celebratory photo after each ride. At the end of the summer you’ll have a great visual documenting your commitment to being active.Girl_Playground_Monkey_Bars
  • Construct an obstacle course using trees, sticks, steps, hula hoops, a ladder etc. Have kids run the course and try to beat your personal best. Need more of a challenge, build an obstacle course you can complete on a bike.
  • Catch frogs.  It’s tough and keeps kids of all ages incredibly entertained.
  • Tackle a playground bucket list. Make a list of playgrounds near and far and start crossing them off your list. 
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. Try to find a rainbow of colors in your backyard or try a bug hunt.

 


Get to Know Let’s Go! – Outside the Office

Posted on July 2, 2015
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Let’s Go! staffers are pros at packing healthy lunches, going for afternoon walks and keeping balanced. But even the best routines can be thrown off track by fun holidays like the 4th of July. Keep reading to hear how we’re eating well and staying active all while celebrating with friends and families.  

Caitlin, our marketing manager, is skipping her routine boot camp class for an active weekend at the lake. She plans on swimming, water skiing and racing her nieces across the beach. To refuel, she’ll grab fresh fruit and grilled chicken and says she always “saves room for a campfire s’more.”IMG_0955

Joel, one of our admin coordinators, is heading to Washington County with his family. He knows he’s less likely to be tempted at a convenient store if he packs healthy snacks for the drive. And all the sitting in the car?  He’s not too worried, he’ll be fishing and biking with his son.

Maggie, another admin coordinator, is fleeing the city and heading to Blackstrap Hill Preserve in Falmouth, Maine to conquer some wicked terrain on her mountain bike. Maggie hydrates with tons of water when she’s mountain biking, no sugary drinks for this go-getter.  Maggie says that her favorite part about mountain biking is tIMG_2459he “challenge of going uphill and the reward of going down.” 

The moral of the story? Plan ahead. Choose your favorite healthy snacks to have on hand, get excited about outdoor activities that you don’t typically partake in and be confident knowing you can have a healthy celebration this 4th. 

 

 


Get to Know Let’s Go!

Posted on June 11, 2015
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Authored by: Caitlin Loveitt, Let’s Go! Home Office

In the coming months I’ll be authoring a collection of blogs called Get to Know Let’s Go!. This series will provide you with a candid look at the inner workings of the program and introduce you to the amazing people behind the program.

Organizations around the country and many partners here in Maine, think of Let’s Go! as a messaging campaign thanks to the popularity of the homegrown 5-2-1-0 message. 5-2-1-0 has been adopted everywhere from New Hampshire to Hawaii. Kids love it, parents support it and communities rally around it but that’s just the beginning of our work. 

The majority of our workday is focused on changing the environments where kids live, learn and play. We’re on the ground and behinds the scenes helping to make the healthy choice the easy choice. After watching this 8 minute video you’ll quickly realize how environmental and policy change form the foundation of the Let’s Go! program.

Emily Cooke, one of our seasoned program managers, explains how schools, child care programs and out of school programs work with Let’s Go! to create and sustain healthy environments.  And don’t worry Emily, we cut the bloopers – or did we?

Please share this video so others can experience Let’s Go! beyond the first impression of 5-2-1-0!

 


5-2-1-0 Events Are Heating Up As Summer Approachs

Posted on June 3, 2015
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In just over two weeks we’ll be celebrating the first day of summer. The school year is coming to a close, families are making plans to play outside and bathing suits are being pulled from the depths of our closets. Here’s a sneak peak at what our calendar looks like this month.

  • Dad and daughter LGLet’s Go! has teamed up with local entrepreneur Kyle Poissonnier, founder of Be The Katalyst on a line of athletic clothing. Kyle, who creates clothing for a cause, reached out to us after his mom, a teacher at Mill Stream Elementary, recommended 5-2-1-0 as a worthy cause. Let’s Go! will receive 25% of the profit, which we will reinvest in healthy options for Maine’s children. Visit bethekatalyst.com to view men’s and women’s tank tops, a unisex t-shirt and women’s athletic leggings.  
  • On Saturday, June 20th Southern Maine Health Care will hold the third annual Gary’s Walk, a fun, three-mile, family-friendly walk with activity stops where families can play games and win prizes. All proceeds from the walk will benefit 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! York County. The walk remembers Gary Sullivan, an advocate for children’s well-being; what better way to honor that legacy than to support his region’s leading initiative promoting healthy eating and active living for children, youth, and families? You can visit the event page to register.
  • On Saturday, June 27th, Let’s Go! Kennebec and Let’s Go! Somerset have organized a fun and active day of family disc golf. This FREE event is part of Inland Hospital’s Family Fun Series and will take place at Quaker Hill Disc Golf in Fairfield Maine. Venture out and try something new from 10:00 to 2:00. More info here.

Summers are short so make the most of them by getting active outside.  For more 5-2-1-0 events visit our site

 


Let’s Go! is Gearing Up for Summer with The Bureau of Parks and Lands

Posted on May 21, 2015
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Authored by: Caitlin Loveitt, Let’s Go! CommunicationsMaine State Parks Pass Let's Go! jpg

Our mission here at Let’s Go! is to improve the lives of children and their families by partnering with communities and organizations to increase the opportunities for healthy eating and active living.

The 2015 Parks Pass Program is a perfect example of how this mission comes to life. Since 2006, Let’s Go! has partnered with community based primary care practices across the state and this year we’re reaching nearly 90% of Maine’s children through 148 registered practices.

We’re also going on a four year partnership with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands. The Bureau has generously donated 13,000 free Parks Passes which we distribute to registered providers.  Our providers tell us how much they love handing the passes to patients, which provide a little extra incentive to heed the doc’s advice to move more.

Thanks to these amazing partners, 13,000 families have the opportunity to visit one of Maine’s 48 State Parks.  Families get a ton of physical activity swimming, biking, hiking, running around and playing games in some of Maine’s most beautiful places.

It’s our hope that parents take advantage of these free passes and plan a 5-2-1-0 family outing. Pack plenty of fruits and veggies for your 5 a day, leave your cell phone in the glove compartment for less than 2 hours of screen time, have fun exploring and you’ll easily get more than 1 hour of physical activity and lastly, be sure to hydrate with water, not sugary drinks.

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Screen Free Week Starts Monday

Posted on April 30, 2015
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Authored by Emily Cooke, early childhood specialist and Let’s Go! program manager 

It’s time again for National Screen Free Week, running from May 4 to May 10! Haven’t heard of it yet? This is a national movement to encourage people to unplug and spend their free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, and connecting with family and friends.

SFW-logo-with-2015-date-cropped-300x152We know healthy habits are best adopted at a young age so we’re kicking off this year’s event with what the research is saying about screen time and our littlest citizens, children age 3 and younger. There is no question that young children learn best from real-world experiences, and there is also no question that they are growing up in a technology-driven world. So how do we best reconcile these two things?

Experts’ recommendations for screen time are no more than 2 hours per day for children age 2 and older and zero hours for children under age 2. Yet, current statistics report that 64% of babies and toddlers are watching TV and videos for more than 2 hours each day. We know this is an ongoing challenge for parents and caregivers so, when you find yourself with little ones in front of a screen the best thing you can do is engage with them in that experience.

Ideally you’d watch or play with them but the next best thing is to simply talk with them about what they saw or did.  Become familiar with the characters, storyline or game objective and ask what happened over dinner.  Lastly, relate it to real-life experiences to help them make the connection between what they see on the screen and the real world; when you see a similar scene, point it out and talk about it.

Limiting screen time is tough, so here are some practical ideas for you to test out next week.Child holding tablet PC

  • If you use screens to get dinner on the table, instead try letting your kids help out with meal prep and getting the table ready.
  • If you use screens to get other tasks like laundry done or bills paid, have a special item or box of items available to your children only during the periods when you need a minute kid-free.
  • If your habit is to watch a show together every evening, mix it up with a family game night or playing tag outside.

 


What Let’s Go! Looks Like in Action

Posted on February 26, 2015
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We wanted to share the following story to give you a better idea of how Let’s Go!’s multi-setting approach brings people together to help children establish healthy habits.

Meet Izzie, an energetic 5th grader who hangs out with her bff, Kristen, plays with her dog, Doc, practices Taekwondo with her little brother Carter, and makes healthy choices on a daily basis.

imrclimbing072012Izzie and her mom, Deanna, have been working with pediatrician and Let’s Go! Healthcare Champion, Pamela Dietz, who when asked about Izzie told us this: “It’s best to shift the focus of our discussions from weight and the number on the scale to the importance of making healthy choices. I showed Izzie how to read a nutrition label, we reviewed the amount of sugar in popular drink choices and we discussed why excessive amounts of sugar are so bad for her overall health. Izzie gets it.”  

Dr. Dietz partnered with Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 nearly a decade ago and uses the 5-2-1-0 message to encourage healthy behaviors. Izzie’s school, C.K. Burns School, is a Let’s Go! registered school, which means they also follow 5-2-1-0. Staff members are committed to making the school a healthy place; last year the school made positive changes to their wellness policy to limit unhealthy foods for snacks and celebrations.

Izzie’s 5th grade teacher, Larry Strout told us Izzie chooses fruit for breakfast and snacks on cucumbers and oranges. We also learned that Izzie recently wrote a research-based opinion essay on why the school should not offer chocolate milk and that she delivered a very persuasive argument.

We love knowing that Izzie is sparking conversation with her peers about the amount of sugar in everyday foods and solving disagreements by simply telling them to “look at the label.” Izzie told us healthy foods give her energy, that her favorite fruit is golden delicious apples, and that her mom makes an amazing lentil soup.

Izzie’s story reflects the success of community partnerships with pediatricians like Pam Dietz, schools like C.K. Burns, parents and even funders like Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation who want to help change the environments where kids play and learn.

With a team of people around her and environments that make the healthy choice the easy choice, Izzie is not only developing healthy new habits, but she is spreading the word. Way to go Izzie!

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New Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 11, 2015
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heartheartheartValentine’s Day is about love and friendship; a special occasion to remind family and friends how much we care about them. So why are we celebrating with boxes of chocolates, cookies and candy? If sugar is bad for us, why do we gift it in the name of love?

This Valentine’s Day, Let’s Go! sites across Maine are swapping the  sugar high for healthy eats and energizing endorphins. Why offer cupcakes when you can build a friendship salad? At child care sites, each child contributes one piece of fruit and the child care provider slices up a friendship fruit salad.

fruitLet’s Go! schools are also committed to building healthy behaviors and use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to hold healthy celebrations.  Schools sent letters home to families announcing that students will be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day by indulging in healthy options and engaging in extra physical activity so kids can get those hearts pumping!

Let’s all rally around the idea that special occasions are best celebrated in a healthy way. This year, show your loved ones how much they mean to you by creating a new tradition: resist the three ‘C’s: chocolate, cookies and candy, and remember these three ‘E’s: excitement, energy and exercise. Organize a special play date, get the family involved in an active game, or create a snack using only red foods (watermelon, apples, tomatoes, red peppers).  Our breakfast Saturday won’t be in a bowl-instead we’ll spread greek yogurt on a plate, place fresh red berries in the shape of a heart and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Taking a little extra time to put together a truly “feel good” gift is well worth it. For more great ideas check out the #LoveHealthy campaign, a compilation of guest blog entries dedicated to a healthy Valentine’s Day.