Childhood obesity is on the rise and can set children up for a lifetime of chronic health issues. According to a 2009 Maine Integrated Health survey conducted by the Maine Department of Education and Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 28.4 percent of Maine kindergarten students are overweight or obese. As part of its mission to keep our communities healthy, Southern Maine Medical Center (SMMC), a member of MaineHealth, is working to battle the childhood obesity epidemic. SMMC recently accepted the second installment of a $50,000 grant for the continued implementation of Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 in the Arundel, Biddeford, Buxton, Dayton, Hollis, Lyman, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco communities.
Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program. The goal of Let’s Go! is to increase physical activity and healthy eating for children from birth to 18 years of age through policy and environmental change. Let’s Go! works in six sectors to reach families where they live, study, work and play to reinforce the importance of healthy eating and getting physical activity. A program of The Kids CO-OP at The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center, Let’s Go! is implemented in partnership with MaineHealth. Let’s Go!, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and DHHS have engaged in a public-private partnership to improve the health of youth and families through the work of the Healthy Maine Partnerships.
Van Beckman recently joined SMMC as their Let’s Go! coordinator and immediately began connecting with the sites. Beckman has a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and is working toward his master’s degree in public health at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service. Prior to joining SMMC, Beckman was the program coordinator for Let’s Go! Androscoggin. The Let’s Go! home office recently recognized Beckman with a rarely-bestowed Redy Award for his Let’s Go! accomplishments in that region.
Obesity is one of six key priorities tracked through the MaineHealth Health Index Program, which measures progress in improving the health status of the people who reside in the MaineHealth service area. As a Community Health Improvement program within MaineHealth, Let’s Go! serves as a critical clinical and community strategy to address this important issue.
Southern Maine Medical Center is proud to be working with the Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition (CHCC) and the York District Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program to be part of the movement for a healthier Maine. These partnerships will include supporting schools and early childhood education programs to provide healthy food and beverage options, provide opportunities to get physically active every day, and to limit recreational screen time.
As a member of MaineHealth, Southern Maine Medical Center is part of a not-for-profit family of leading high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together so their communities are the healthiest in America. For more information on Let’s Go! in your local area, please visit www.letsgo.org.
About Southern Maine Medical Center
Southern Maine Medical Center (SMMC) is a national award-winning healthcare system, including a 150-bed acute care medical center in Biddeford, Maine, offering excellent clinical care and a multi-specialty physician services group with medical offices providing outpatient care located in Biddeford, Kennebunk, Old Orchard Beach and Saco. Non-emergency care is available without an appointment seven days a week at SMMC’s Walk-In Care center in Saco. SMMC is Joint Commission accredited, state-licensed, and is a member of Southern Maine Health Care and the MaineHealth system. To learn more visit www.smmc.org.
PHOTO CAPTION: (l-r) Karen Chasse, Development and Community Outreach Manager, and Van Beckman, Let’s Go! Coordinator, accept a $50,000 check from MaineHealth’s Program Managers Andrea Fletcher and Emily Wolff to continue the Let’s Go! Program.
Karen Chasse, 207-283-7238