The Star-Herald

Let’s Go! recognizes sites for inspiring healthy kids

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — Schools, child care programs, school nutrition and out-of-school programs are encouraging healthy snacks, offering more physical activity, and swapping sugary drinks with water as part of the Let’s Go! program.

Let’s Go! announced Nov. 6 that 12 schools, 31 school cafeterias, four out-of-school programs and 35 childcare programs in Aroostook County are being recognized for their positive impact on children’s health. A total of 81 sites are proactively implementing Let’s Go!’s evidence-based strategies with the goal of increasing daily healthy habits. 

In Aroostook County, Katharine Putnam coordinates the program and has spent the last four years growing the program and connecting with the community. 

Sites are instilling a positive relationship with food and enthusiasm for healthy choices — 98 percent limit or eliminate sugary drinks and promote water as the drink of choice and 95 percent of sites prohibit the use of food as a reward. 

“Our partners work hard, each and every day, to make sure the kids in their care make healthy choices and understand why those choices matter,” said Putnam. “We believe healthy habits make happy kids and that’s why we’re dedicated to decreasing childhood obesity one healthy choice at a time.”

Introduced in 2012, the Let’s Go! recognition program identifies and celebrates schools, out-of-school programs, childcare programs and health care practices for their role in improving the health of all children. The program focuses on sustainable change. A Bronze award 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. Gold, the highest level of recognition, is reserved for sites that have written all five-priority strategies into policy or have school staff participate on the district’s wellness committee.

Let’s Go! also recognizes school cafeterias for the role they play in helping kids make healthy choices.

Of the 1306 sites across 263 towns that Let’s Go! partners with, 70 percent met the criteria for recognition, a 3 percent increase from 2017. A list of 2018 has recognized sites can be found at www. ites/ School cafeterias’ recognition status is determined based on the number of Smarter Lunchroom strategies they implemented during the school year. Most of the 60 strategies stem from behavioral economics and are designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play. 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 state of Maine. 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. 

To learn more about the program or to enroll please contact Katharine Putnam at (207)554-4110.

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