Let’s Go!, which originated in the Portland area in 2006 to combat childhood obesity, has been growing in Knox County since December 2011.

Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that focuses on increasing healthy eating and active living for children from birth to age 18 by reaching out to them through schools, early childcare sites, after school programs, healthcare sites, worksites and the community at large.

Healthy eating and active living are at the heart of the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program. It has a simple message that encourages people to: Eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day, watch two hours or less of recreational screen time, engage in one hour or more of physical activity a day and consume no sugary beverages.

Knox County currently has 38 registered Let’s Go! sites. These sites are incorporating the 5-2-1-0 program in a variety of ways. The early childcare sites have made changes ranging from creative healthy celebrations to eliminating juice to incorporating music and movement into the classroom.

Early childcare centers participating in the program are:

Early Childcare Centers: Penobscot Bay YMCA, Penobscot Bay YMCA satellite site at Midcoast Recreation Center, Midcoast Children’s Services, Island Village Childcare in Vinalhaven, Little Learners in Rockport and South Thomaston, The Playroom, Pen Bay Creative Learning Center, Wee Care Learning and Nature Center, Midcoast Regional Child Development Services, Rockland Head Start, Ponderosa Playland Childcare and Kids Korner Family Child Care

The schools are working on policy changes, educating the kids on what makes a healthy snack and finding new ways to incorporate physical activity into the daily schedule. Food service directors from all Knox County school districts are participating in a food service director workgroup (in collaboration with Let’s Go! Lincoln County and the food service directors in their county), working to meet the new USDA guidelines for school lunch and are finding ways to educate the community on the changes they are implementing to make school lunches more nutritious.

Schools participating are: Camden-Rockport Elementary School, Camden-Rockport Middle School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Hope Elementary School, Lincolnville Central School, Union Elementary School, Prescott Memorial School, Friendship Village School, Warren Community School, Lura Libby School, Owls Head Central School, Cushing Community School, Matinicus Island School and Maine Homeschooling Co-op.

Two of the after-school programs received Let’s Go! mini-grants and are integrating either healthy snacks into the day or offering snowshoeing as an option for a daily outdoor activity for students. Participating after-school programs are: Warren After-School Children’s Enrichment program, Union ACE, Youthlinks, Kids Club at Penobscot Bay YMCA and Rockport Public Library.

Additionally, healthcare sites are regularly performing Body Mass Index checks on children age 2 and older as well as administering a healthy habits questionnaire during well child checkups to start the conversation about healthy eating and active living.

Healthcare practices involved are: Pen Bay Pediatrics, Pen Bay Family Medicine, Waldoboro Family Medicine, Robert N. Merrill, MD, Zing! Program and Hope Health.

Parents looking for places that are proactive in creating environments and policies that encourage healthy eating and active living can contact the Let’s Go! sites listed above.

Directors or managers of a program that is eligible to register as a Let’s Go! site and are interested in receiving more information about the program can contact Adrienne Gallant, Let’s Go! Knox County coordinator at 596-8951 or agallant@penbayhealthcare.org. For more information on the Let’s Go! program please visit letsgo.org.