The Star-Herald

CDC extends support to the Aroostook County Action Program addressing social determinants

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – To aid increasing efforts to improve the health and economic condition of Aroostook  County, the Aroostook County Action Program received a $125,000 grant from the Center for  Disease Control and Prevention for the Aroostook County Social Determinants of Health Accelerator Plan.

The grant is awarded only for those regions the CDC recognizes as at-risk for a wide  array of conditions. In partnership with the Maine Resilience Building Network, the project – which runs through September – puts in place the necessary steps to increase social  connectedness and decrease food insecurity along with nutrition education.

Aroostook County has been identified as vulnerable in many important targets that measure the  prosperity of an area. According to the CDC, these levels have consistently grown worse since 2010. A low number of college graduates, an uninsured and underinsured populous, wide-spread poverty, food  insecurity, and higher than average disease diagnostics have been noted by the agency as being  significant. Further data concerns are related to the youth of Maine overall, where depression and  anxiety related illnesses mark the state in the bottom three for ranking in America. Collectively, the  pandemic has worsened matters in nearly all analyzed areas. 

This planning grant will be led locally by Amber Tierney. Tierney is a newly returning ACAP employee  with a passion for serving the most vulnerable in our community. When describing her new role, she  shared, “Coming together as a community to identify and then reduce negative social implications for  our youth makes life better now and in the future for youth and their families in Aroostook County.”

MRBN, a partner of the project, reaches more than 2,000 individuals and organizations across the state. The forward thinking partner is recognized as one of the best resources for informing organizations,  communities, education leaders and staff to create systems change and policy for the health of Maine’s  children and families. Their partnership with ACAP is sure to be valuable, as both groups have a long  history of working to improve these areas for the people of Maine. 

The goal of this grant, the development of the Accelerator Plan, will stimulate growth and engagement  with partners across service sectors. Focusing on creating the plan that has equal outcomes for as many  recipients as possible, the collaboration with other agencies is sure to begin a new and brighter era for  Aroostook County. The first coalition meeting is scheduled via Zoom for Thursday, Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. Community leaders and community members are invited to join the meeting  to learn more about the project and provide valuable feedback. For more information or to receive the meeting Zoom link, email Tierney at atierney@acap-me.org.

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