Memorial Hospital recognizes Let's Go! program sites that promote childhood wellness

April 13, 2018

NORTH CONWAY, NH – Memorial Hospital recently held a celebration at the hospital to recognize 18 northern Carroll County schools, after school programs, childcare centers and health care practices for building environments in which unhealthy food choices are limited and opportunities for physical activity are plentiful.

President & CEO Scott McKinnon welcomed site representatives including teachers, nurses, doctors, business owners and after school program coordinators. The evening recognized their work with Let’s Go!, a program coordinated through Memorial Hospital’s Population Health Department headed up by Sue Ruka and coordinated by Heather Phillips. Memorial Hospital started their Population Health Department in 2015, in partnership with MaineHealth, in an effort to help their community become among the healthiest in America.

The Let's Go! Recognition Program not only recognizes programs for their role in improving the health of all children, but also focuses on programs that promote sustainable change and therefore recognizes various levels leading up to policy change.

“It is a pleasure to see the progress this group has made to improve the health of our community," said Sue Ruka. "Let’s Go! strategies are designed to make healthy decisions easier," she said and explained: "It takes providing a consistent message in all settings allowing children as well as anyone proving services for them to reinforce and reward healthy behaviors and habits. The collaborative efforts among this group has resulted in many innovative strategies and programs that have been shared and replicated. The enthusiasm and commitment from the Let’s Go! sites is remarkable and I am confident we’ll continue to see improvements in our community’s health as we continue this great work.”

Local sites cited for their work as Let's Go! sites include the following childcare and out of school programs: Bartlett Community Preschool, Children Unlimited, Inc., Vaughan Learning Center, Lilliputian Montessori School, BEAR Summer Program (Bartlett Recreation), Home Run Sports Training Center and Madison Recreation Department. Schools and healthcare sites recognized included: John Fuller School, Josiah Bartlett Elementary School, Kennett High School, Madison Elementary School, Pine Tree Elementary School, A. Crosby Kennett Middle School, Conway Elementary School, Jackson Grammar School, Primary Care at Memorial Hospital, White Mountain Community Health Center and Saco River Medical Group.

This is the second year Memorial Hospital has recognized sites in Carroll County. "We’ve realized a 20% increase in just one year for making healthy eating and physical activity for students, staff and families a priority," said Heather Phillips. "I am impressed by the energy and hard work of our sites, and feel very grateful to be helping to lead the way in our communities.”

Reegan Brown, Let’s Go! Home Office MaineHealth Implementation Program Manager, who was in attendance at the program, shared that she always appreciates the opportunity to spend time with the Let’s Go! site champions in New Hampshire and hear about all of the great things happening at their schools, child care and out of school programs. The Let’s Go! Recognition Program provides an opportunity to showcase this and most importantly, celebrate the hard work of these individuals and their teams, she explained. "It’s their efforts that truly brings our program to life, instilling healthy behaviors among our children and creating long-lasting change in the community."

Childcare, school, and out-of-school sites are recognized for three levels of commitment to Let’s Go!’s five priority strategies:

  1. Limit unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations, provide healthy choices.
  2. Limit or eliminate sugary beverages, provide water.
  3. Prohibit the use of food as a reward.
  4. Provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
  5. Limit recreational screen time.

Health care sites are recognized for three practice specific, obesity prevention program components: Providing consistent 5-2-1-0 messaging in offices; Calculating BMI for all patients aged 2 and older; and Using the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Habits Questionnaire to have a respectful conversation about lifestyles with their patients.

School cafeterias’ recognition status is determined based on how many Smarter Lunchroom strategies they implemented during the school year. All strategies stem from behavioral economics and range from labeling vegetables with creative names to inviting a local “celebrity” to dine with students.

This year, Let’s Go! is recognizing a total of 657 sites across Maine and in select New Hampshire communities. A list of all 2017 Let’s Go! recognized sites is available at www.letsgo.org.

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About Let’s Go!
Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that reaches children and families where they live, learn, work and play. Let’s Go! is committed to changing environments and policies at child cares, schools, out-of-school programs, health care practices, workplaces and communities. 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 states of Maine and NH. 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.

About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, family birthing center, sleep center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services and the Miranda Center for Diabetes. Physician practices include primary care and family medicine, women's health, orthopedics and sports medicine. The Merriman House, a 45-bed nursing home specializing in Alzheimer's and other memory disorders, is also located on the hospital campus. Together, our staff and providers are committed to meeting the health needs of the Mt. Washington Valley and surrounding communities by collaborating with community partners in the delivery of accessible, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality health care.