ACAP, Ronald McDonald charities donate to recreation departments across County
HOULTON, Maine — Children in Aroostook County can now be a bit more active thanks to the purchase of new equipment at 12 recreation departments through Aroostook County Action Program’s 5-2-1-0, Let’s Go! Program.
On Wednesday, July 11, at 9:30 a.m., members of the ACAP staff and Heidi Abbotoni, chair of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine grant committee, met with staff at the Houlton Recreation Center for a formal presentation of the equipment.
Twelve of the 17 recreation departments in Aroostook County participated in the 5-2-1-0, Let’s Go! Program, with each receiving just under $700 to buy equipment. Participating recreation centers included: Houlton, Presque Isle, Madawaska, Mars Hill, Limestone, Caribou, Easton, Ashland, Fort Fairfield, Van Buren, Washburn and Island Falls.
Each recreation department also signed tobacco policies through a partnership with ACAP’s Tobacco Use Prevention program, furthering a commitment to health in Aroostook County youth.
“We are very happy to be partnering with ACAP and for them to be able to disburse the money to local rec centers so they can help us achieve healthier families and kids in the state of Maine,” said Abbotoni. “This allowed them to buy some supplies that they would not have otherwise been able to.”
Abbotoni said it was especially sweet for her to be able to present money to the Houlton Recreation Department, since her children have participated in several programs over the years.
Earlier this year, ACAP received $7,755 in grant funding from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine to buy equipment such as soccer balls and nets, softballs and baseballs, obstacle course pieces, and similar items to distribute to recreation departments in Aroostook County that chose to participate.
“The grant funding has made it possible for recreation centers across Aroostook County to improve their physical activity equipment and provide better recreation activities,” said 5-2-1-0, Let’s Go! Community Educator Katie Putnam. “Recreation centers sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve for keeping our kids active every day in the summer months. They are a strong component in our community. Keeping our kids healthy and entertained daily is hard work, and with this grant funding, I hope they can see how much they are appreciated.”
The 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! Program stands for five fruits or vegetables a day; two hours or less of screen time on electronic devices; one or more of physical activity; and zero sugary drinks. It was created in 2009.
Marie Carmichael, recreation director for Houlton, said she used the funds to purchase a tunnel, potato sacks, a tug-of-war rope and scooters for the children. The equipment will be available for both the Houlton Recreation Department and the Just For Kids Playground.
“We were very excited to receive the grant,” Carmichael said. “Our goal is to keep the kids active and really appreciate the efforts from ACAP and the Ronald McDonald Charities for all the work they have done for the community and the children.”