FRENCHVILLE, Maine — On Tuesday, March 3, representatives from Aroostook County Action Program and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield participated in Recess Rocks at Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville.
During the event, Rory Sheehan, Public Relations Director for Anthem Blue and Cross Blue Shield officially presented ACAP/Healthy Aroostook with a $50,000 grant to support theLet’s Go! 5210 program at Dr. Levesque and other Aroostook County schools.
Recess Rocks is a physical activity program that allowsDr. Levesque students extra physical activity time for their academic achievements, and is used to help get the students moving before tests are taken. This helps make students ready to learn and has been shown to improve test scores
Let’s Go! recognized Dr. Levesque Elementary School last year for its achievements in promoting healthy lifestylesthrough Let’s Go! 5210 programming; the school achieved the highest rating, a Gold Award, implementing a school-wide policy to promote physical activity.
Sheehan said, about the grant application from the partnership of Healthy Aroostook, Let’s Go! Aroostook and ACAP, “A few stand out in the application process. This one stood out as a model for schools across the country.”
Carol Bell, Partnership Director for Healthy Aroostook, said to the room full of students and staff, “This school is the shining star. The things you do here we want all schools in Aroostook County to do.”
Deb Jacques, Resource Developer for ACAP, explained that the 5210 messaging encourages schools to promote five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks, to be replaced by water whenever possible.
Jacques introduced Colette Thompson, the new Let’s Go! Aroostook Program Coordinator. Thompson is available to assist any school administrators or staff, out-of-school coordinators, and childcare program coordinators in Aroostook County interested in the program.
“There’s lots of opportunities for growth,” she said.
She added, however, “These programs work best when you have ahampion,” referring to Dr. Levesque’s Principal Bernier.
She praised Bernier for the policy development and implementation efforts, since policies tend to be more stable in a school environment than the individual interests or capabilities of staff might be, she said.
Jacques also explained that nationally, there are Let’s Go programs for businesses, leading to the possibility that families may meet in the evening at the dinner table, having learned the same concepts at work and at school. She said that Fish River Rural Health in Eagle Lake and Fort Kent has been a great champion for the program in the St. John Valley.
Let’s Go! Aroostook coordinator Thompson said that there had been more schools enrolled in the Let’s Go program prior to the loss of state funding for school health coordinator positions in 2012.She
intends to reach out to all schools and re–engage them in the Let’s Go program
Let’s Go! promotion of 5210 is based on the idea that healthy places support healthy choices, Thompson said; that healthy places need to have consistent messaging across those settings; and that 5210 is evidence-based, meaning that it is based in research supplied by the medical community.