Posted by letsgo on March 6, 2014
Authored by Ashley Edmondson, Let’s Go! Cumberland County Coordinator
Public Health Program The Opportunity Alliance
Let’s Go! Cumberland County Applauds Gorham School District to Celebrate with Physical Activity!
At Village, Narragansett, and Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham, Maine you will find kids smiling, laughing, and having fun at classroom celebrations – using activities that don’t involve food! During the spring of 2013, Let’s Go! Champion, Frank DeFrancesco, led the initiative with his wellness team to promote physical activity and provide child friendly, non-food items during classroom celebrations for all K-5 schools. This movement began when the Great Falls wellness team saw how important it was for school staff and students to increase opportunities for physical activity and promote healthy nutrition throughout the school day.
Frank’s local Let’s Go! Coordinator, Ashley Edmondson, connected him with Paula Harris, the former Let’s Go! Champion at Pond Cove, whose school has been successfully providing fun, non-food celebrations for over 10 years. Paula provided Frank’s team with resources to successfully implement the new practice and educate staff and parents on the benefits of these improved celebrations. Great Falls wellness team also reached out to Windham Raymond School District, whom recently revised their wellness policy to include fun, non-food celebrations. With the help of these schools, Frank created a researched-based presentation on the impact of unhealthy behaviors and the importance of supporting healthier behaviors through by introducing non-food celebrations. The presentation provided a number of reasons why a change in practice is critical for children’s health AND academic success.
Benefits of non-food celebrations include:
• Provides a fun way to celebrate special events and successes.
• Provides options that are beneficial to a child’s health, development and education.
• Provides a supportive environment for healthy eating that doesn’t challenge a parent’s decision to ensure their child eats healthy during the school day.
• Reduces the potential for children’s exposure to foodborne illness.
• Considers the needs of all students, helping to limit potential harm due to special dietary needs or food allergies.
• Supports health education curriculum.
Gorham’s three elementary school’s new practice to provide non-food celebrations was supported by the school administration last April and has taken effect during this school year. An informational letter was sent home to parents announcing the new practice, with a majority of parents responding positively:
“For my family the no foods for celebration program has helped us snack healthier at home too. I find myself buying much more veggies and fruits for them to snack on outside of school rather than quick snack packs of something… it’s actually helped me get in touch with my creative side as now I put together nonedible treats for my kids’ class and it’s so much more fun and healthy!” – Debra Chasse – parent of a Kindergarten and Grade 3 student
“I think it’s great that Great Falls has adopted the no food for celebration procedure. It’s better for them and it teaches kids that there is more to celebrations than the sugary treats. My daughter doesn’t miss it a bit.” – Stacy Smith – parent of a Grade 1 student
Great Falls wellness team also surveyed Gorham School District staff through email and found that over 70% of staff supported the implementation of more fun and active non-food celebrations. As the district website states: “Non-food tokens such as stickers or pencils can be used to celebrate birthdays while promoting a healthier school environment.”
On behalf of the Let’s Go! Cumberland County team and our statewide Let’s Go! community, we would like to congratulate the Great Falls wellness team for their hard work and success in supporting children’s health!
Posted by letsgo on February 27, 2014
Authored by Adrienne Gallant,
Let’s Go! Knox County Coordinator
The holidays are behind us and we are in the middle of winter here in Maine. Many of us just want to hibernate until the cold is gone and eat warm, comforting foods. Some folks make New Year resolutions to eat healthier. This can be particularly difficult to do, especially on a budget. Here are some helpful hints on how to maximize your budget and eat healthy too this winter!
- Plan ahead: Take some time on the weekend to plan 3-4 healthy dinners for the coming week. There’s no need to make a meal every day of the week, make some extra that can be eaten on those busy nights—leftovers!
- Use what you have: Before going shopping, take an inventory of what you already have in your fridge, pantry and freezer and incorporate that into your meal planning.
- Make a list and stick to it!
- Look for sales: When you’re planning your menu look at the flyers and plan your menu around the fruits and vegetables that are on sale that week!
- Try canned or frozen produce: They keep for a long time and can be less expensive per serving than fresh produce. Look for items that are made with no added sauces or sugar, or that are labeled “low sodium”, “no salt added” or “in 100% juice”.
- Shop in season: Buying fruits and vegetables in season usually means your food tastes better and costs less. Check out your local farmers’ markets or farm stands in your community. Check out Let’s Go!’s list of seasonal fruits and veggies in Maine.
- Go generic: Try store brands! Store brands on average are cheaper by about 26-28% and the quality is usually the same or better than name brand products!
- Buy in bulk: Buy in bulk when foods are on sale. Frozen and canned vegetables and some fresh items (like apples and carrots) will last a long time.
- Shop the perimeter: Although you’ve probably heard this one a lot, it’s true! Spend most of your budget on foods found around the outside of the store like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean protein foods. Limit your shopping in the middle aisles to staples like whole wheat pasta, rice, canned tuna and almond butter or peanut butter.
- Compare unit prices: Use the unit price to compare similar products. This will help make sure you are getting the best deal. The unit price is usually found on the sticker on the shelf beneath the item.
- Don’t shop hungry!!! People who shop when they’re hungry or stressed tend to buy more food as well as unhealthier food items
Print a copy of this list and post it at home.
Posted by letsgo on February 11, 2014
Authored by Laura Howell,
Let’s Go! Kennebec Site Coordinator
On January 5, over 100 people gathered at Green St. Park in the South End of Waterville for WinterFest, an event sponsored by Inland Hospital’s Let’s Go! Family Fun Series. The Let’s Go! Family Fun Series is a collaboration of Inland Hospital, the Alfond Youth Center, Waterville Parks & Recreation, and other local organizations. The series features free, monthly family-friendly events in the greater Waterville area.
Families came from all over Northern-Kennebec County with sleds ready to go, and the large hill located at the park was the scene of a fun-filled active afternoon. The Central Maine Ski Club donated sleds for the children to use, and they plowed a track in the shape of a figure-8 in the snow for skiing and snowshoeing. Cross-country skis as well as an abundance of family-friendly snowshoes provided by Healthy Hometowns were put to great use all afternoon. Many of the families and children who used them had never skied before and ending up loving it. A StoryWalk featuring the book From Head to Toe by Eric Carle demonstrated that even story time could be an active time for families! Soup and hot apple cider provided some warmth and sustenance for participants while taking a break from the action. The refreshments donated by Inland were served by friendly South End Neighborhood Association (SENA) volunteers.
The event could not have been possible without the support of local partners and many enthusiastic volunteers. For more information about the Family Fun Series or to register your family, check out the Inland website, inlandhospital.org or contact Ellen Wells, Community Wellness Coordinator at Inland Hospital at firstname.lastname@example.org 861-3292.
Posted by letsgo on January 30, 2014
Authored by Bethany Fortier, MPH
Community Transformation Coordinator, York District
Through support from the Community Transformation Grant and Let’s Go! York County, Country Kids Preschool in Lyman has made great strides in creating an environment that promotes healthy eating and active living. Each month Casey Marcotte, Country Kids Preschools Director, makes a Preschool Newsletter and Calendar for families outlining their plans. Starting this past September Casey has been including handouts from the 5-2-1-0 Goes to Childcare binder or the Nutrition Nuggets News. Casey has also found creative ways to increase movement, on these cold winter days, in a safe and structured way. Thanks to recent funding from the Community Transformation Grant the preschool purchased new movement games for the children. One game is a bean bag toss game that has animal photos on each bean bag. This has been a favorite! It’s a fun mystery as to which animal movement the children choose and have to act out! Another fun game Casey picked was an alphabet game. It’s a fabulous game to reinforce alphabet learning while moving their bodies around on the mats. This game has many variations. The children enjoy “freeze dancing” around on them, hopping from mat to mat and when the music stops the children “freeze” and state the letter/sound they are standing on. Another simple yet favorite movement game the children have enjoyed is placing orange cones around the classroom (see video below). Teachers race to knock the cones over while students race to stand them up!
A constant goal of Casey’s is to offer a healthy variety of snacks and new foods. Recently the children enjoyed a “friendship snack”. Girls were asked to bring a fruit while boys were asked to bring their favorite cracker. It was a fun way to get the children involved in creating a healthy snack together by bringing what was a favorite for them and maybe something new to another child. Through funding from the Community Transformation Grant, the preschool also purchased grocery shopping baskets and use them for a variety of games. The “rainbow food” shopping activity is educational and fun. For this game Casey hides foods the colors of the rainbow encouraging “shopping for variety & colors”. Foods are placed all around the class and children go back and forth around the room, shopping for the rainbow, until they’ve found an item of each color!
“I love that 5-2-1-0 [Let's Go!] and the Community Transformation Grant has been an amazing resource for Country Kids Preschool and our community,” says Casey. “Nutrition and fitness have always been a passion of mine that started when I was a child. It’s very exciting to me to have a program working with me, sharing the same passion and excitement.”
Posted by letsgo on January 28, 2014
Authored by Ashley Edmondson, Let’s Go! Coordinator
Communities Promoting Health Coalition, A program of The Opportunity Alliance
The Let’s Go! Cumberland County team hosted their first recognition event to honor hard-working childcare, school, after-school and physician champions within their community. This celebration brought together multiple sites from each setting to acknowledge and commend their commitment and dedication to children’s health. Sites were able to network and meet other champions in different settings from around Cumberland County.
The celebration took place in the beautiful Timbers Rooms located at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland. After mingling and indulging in the delicious food catered by Local Sprouts, the participants played a Let’s Go! Bingo game, designed to spark conversation between sectors, staff, and site leaders. The game was followed by welcoming and honoring two special guests- President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Portland, Suzanne McCormick and the Director of the Let’s Go! Program, Dr. Tory Rogers. Suzanne McCormick acknowledged Cumberland County’s efforts to collaborate and integrate Let’s Go! into other initiatives designed to promote health in Cumberland County, such as the local Healthy Maine Partnerships and Community Transformation Grant work. She shared that Let’s Go! is continuing to grow in Cumberland County, with 116 sites enrolled in the program that are working towards increasing access to healthy foods and creating opportunities for physical activity!
During a fantastic story-telling session, Dr. Tory Rogers encouraged sites to share what they were most proud of and how the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program has made an impact on their program or in their school. Deborah, Program Director from A Child’s World, a center based childcare in Windham stated, “Listening to other sites share their story was inspiring and provided us with more ideas!”
Let’s Go! Cumberland County plans to hold this event annually and is excited to see more sites creating healthy environments for children to learn and play!
Posted by letsgo on January 21, 2014
Authored by Adrienne Gallant
Let’s Go! Knox County Coordinator
Have you ever felt that you just don’t have time to squeeze in one more thing to your day? Your day is full of work, kids, after school programs, sports, supper, bedtime….and the list goes on and on and on…. Just the thought of trying to find time to get in any type of exercise might just make your brain explode. Even though studies have shown that regular physical activity can help control your weight, reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, strengthen bones and muscles, improve moods and much more (www.cdc.gov), exercising is usually one of the first things we drop from our “to-do” list.
To help you squeeze in a few minutes of physical activity each day here are some examples of exercises you can do just about anywhere: at work, on a walk, at lunch, during commercials when you’re watching TV…you get the picture!*
- Kneeling push-ups: start with your knees on the ground, feet lifted and your hands directly under your shoulders. Put your body in a kneeling plank position. Slowly lower your chest down and push your body back up to the starting position. You can also do these on the wall to start or on your toes as you get stronger!
- Planks: start by lying face down. Place your elbows directly below your shoulders and your forearms under your chest and prop yourself onto your toes and forearms. Make sure your back is flat and don’t let your hips to sag toward the ground. If this is too hard try it from a kneeling position first. Start by holding this position for 10 seconds and work your way up!
- Squats: sit back like you’re sitting on a chair, bend at the knees, hinge at the waist and put your weight in your heels. Be careful not to extend your knees over your toes! Stand up! Taking care of knees or just starting out? Don’t go down as far into the squat or use a chair behind you. Slowly sit back on the edge of the chair and then return to a standing position.
- Jumping jacks: Start out with this move by stepping one foot out, then the other. As you feel comfortable, work up to jumping both feet out at one time and bring your arms out into a v-position at the same time. Great for warming up your muscles.
- Running in place: Just starting out? March in place and build up to a jog. Keep it up for 10-30 seconds. This simple exercise gets the heart pumping and works important muscles!
You want to print out these exercises and put them up at work or on your fridge.
If you are around children and they see you being physically active, you’re teaching them that it’s important to stay healthy and active and they are more likely to join in the fun!
*You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any new type of physical activities to determine if it is right for your needs
Posted by letsgo on January 16, 2014
Authored by Gina Foianini, Snap Ed Coordinator
In a continued effort to bring about environmental and policy changes that support healthy eating and physical activity, Cumberland County Let’s Go! and SNAP-Ed staff have joined forces to support childcare providers in encouraging healthy lifestyles for children from birth to age 5. On November 4th, Let’s Go! Staff Brittney Gilman held a successful Action Plan Workshop for Head Start providers and presented on the importance of providing healthy foods in the classroom and engaging parents around nutrition and physical activity at home. Staff had the opportunity to create goals for the new school year by completing their Let’s Go! action plan. Motivated by this training and with the help of SNAP-Ed Coordinator Gina Foianini, Head Start’s Bridgton location has implemented a health-focused educational lesson every Tuesday as well as a Fruit and Veggie Challenge, encouraging children to eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day. We are excited for this partnership to continue to helping children in childcares and schools develop life long healthy eating and physical activity habits!
Posted by letsgo on December 10, 2013
Authored by Van Beckman, Let’s Go! York County
Let’s Go! York County recently held a gathering to celebrate the accomplishments of Let’s Go! sites in that region during the 2013-13 year – our first such event. This special dinner brought together many of our site “champions” from the past year to share each other’s stories, get to know one another, and of course to enjoy a delicious, healthy meal!
At the end of the event, which we held at Duffy’s Tavern in Kennebunk November 7, Let’s Go! founder and director Dr. Tory Rogers presented the site champions each with special certificate recognizing them for their hard work in the previous year.
“We are immensely proud of the work York County Let’s Go! sites have done, and what a fantastic opportunity to have so many accomplished folks from our area gather together to celebrate that work,” said Tory after the event. “It’s an exciting chance for them to meet and share their great stories with each other and with us, as well as to receive the recognition they so well deserve.”
All 20 sites with representation at the event are also current Let’s Go! sites for the 2013-14 year, and most of them were being recognized at the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level for their work in 2012-13. (For more info on Let’s Go!’s recognition program, click here.) The 2013 Let’s Go! sites of distinction in York County are:
- Kid Connection, Lebanon – Silver
- The New School, Kennebunk – Bronze
- Gov. John Fairfield School, Saco – Bronze
- Jameson School, Old Orchard Beach – Bronze
- Kennebunk Elementary School – Silver
- Kennebunkport Consolidated School – Silver
- St. James School, Biddeford – Silver
- YMCA of Southern Maine Child Care Center, Biddeford – Silver
- Biddeford 2 Head Start – Silver
- Biddeford 3 Head Start – Silver
- Sanford 2 Head Start – Silver
- Old Orchard Beach Head Start – Silver
- SunShine Childcare, Lyman – Silver
- Deer Pond Edu-Care, Hollis – Gold
- Sue’s Place Child Care Center, Arundel – Gold
- St. James Preschool & Child Development Center, Biddeford – Gold
- Waterboro Village Pediatrics
- SMMC PrimeCare Pediatrics, Biddeford
- SMMC PrimeCare Family Practice, Saco
- SMMC PrimeCare Pediatrics, Kennebunk
- SMMC PrimeCare Pediatrics, Saco
- SMMC PrimeCare Family Practice, Kennebunk
- Maine Medical Partners Pediatrics, Saco
(Let’s Go! York County is overseen by staff from Southern Maine Medical Center and Goodall Hospital’s Partners for Healthier Communities, a Healthy Maine Partnership.)
Posted by letsgo on December 3, 2013
Authored by Emily Kain
At Pen Bay Medical Center, Food Service Director Jeffrey Space has created a unique program that benefits the health of employees, patients, and community members alike. In the winter, Jeff purchases a large community supported agriculture share from a local Knox-county farm. This share allows Jeff to pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, he receives weekly shares of vegetables fresh from the farm. In the summer and fall, Jeff uses lots of local veggies in the food prepared by hospital cafeteria staff, which is then given to patients staying in the hospital, employees or visitors purchasing food from the cafeteria, or one of the many events on campus that are catered by the café. In addition, Jeff gives Pen Bay employees the opportunity to purchase their own “share” of produce on a weekly or monthly basis, which they pick up outside of the cafeteria. See the photo below from one of his recent deliveries!
Pen Bay is one of ten MaineHealth hospitals participating in the national “Hospital Healthy Food Initiative”, a program of the Partnership for a Healthier America. The hospitals are working to make healthy changes in their cafeterias and on their patient menus—from offering healthier meals with more fruits and vegetables to labeling all foods available with calorie information. For more information on this exciting initiative, visit the Hospital Healthy Food Initiative webpage.
Looking for more ideas on how to stay healthy and active at work?
Check out the new Let’s Go! Workplace Toolkit.
Posted by letsgo on November 26, 2013
Authored by Emily Cooke
The Penobscot Bay YMCA Childcare in Rockland, Maine has been hard at work promoting and supporting healthy eating and good nutrition to the children in their care and their families. Over a year ago they took the plunge and began serving only healthy food choices at celebrations. Then, a few months later they put a policy in place that allows parents to bring in only healthy foods for children’s celebrations.
In support of their new guidelines, the childcare had the fun idea to adapt their monthly snack menu to celebrate a fruit or vegetable each month. For example, May was “National Strawberry Month” so they celebrated strawberries all of May. To carry the idea through to the parents and the classroom, they added healthy snack recipes into their monthly newsletter and the preschool room made their own snacks, like watermelon popsicles!
They finished the year by getting creative to celebrate their preschool graduation in a healthy way, an event that in the past would have had cake. Instead they made fruit pizzas, carved a “watermelon cake” decorating it with fruit, and carved out pineapples to serve as fruit bowls. The creativity at the Penobscot YMCA is in high gear and inspiring! Thanks for being an example to everyone on how to make healthy celebrations a reality!