Active Communities

Regular physical activity is a key component to improving health and wellbeing. People who are moderately or vigorously active lower their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity can significantly improve our mental health. Exercise can sharpen thinking, learning and judgment skills, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help us sleep better.

Currently fewer than half of all Americans get the physical activity they need to provide health benefits, and 25% of adults are not active at all in their leisure time. In Maine, only 23.7% of youth get their recommended level of exercise (60 minutes per day). Only 56% of Maine adults get their recommended levels of physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times per week).

Physical Activity does not have to be strenuous and highly time-consuming to be beneficial. As an example, for adults, walking 30 minutes 5 times a week can benefit our health and wellbeing. For youth, participating in school sports, engaging in after-school activities, or walking to school can provide the recommended exercise to promote health and wellbeing.

Click here for an inspiring and informative 30-minute video entitled, "The Walking Revolution."

Opportunities abound to improve access to physical activity throughout Hancock and Washington counties. Healthy Acadia and our partners are engaged in multiple initiatives to promote active communities, including:

Healthy Homes

Healthy Transportation

Healthy Recreation

Land Use Planning

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Let's Go! 5-2-1-0

Maine Healthy Air Coalition

Healthy Homes

A Healthy Home is a home that is maintained to provide a healthy environment for residents and visitors. A house that is not properly maintained can lead to unhealthy outcomes for residents, such as asthma, lead poisoning, lung cancer and unintentional injuries.

The following seven principles of a healthy home should be considered at all times: 

  • Contaminant Free: Lead, Radon, Carbon Monoxide, Well Water and Tobacco
  • Pest Free: Bedbugs, Mice and Cockroaches
  • Safe from Injury
  • Ventilated
  • Maintained
  • Dry
  • Clean

Healthy Acadia supports Healthy Homes through providing education about the important components of maintaining a healthy home, and through connecting residents with resources and support to improve the health of their homes. 

For more information, contact Maria Donahue at 


Healthy Transportation

One of the principle ways we build exercise into our lives is through healthy modes of transportation, including walking and biking. This initiative promotes both the construction and the use of sidewalks, shoulders and paths as preferred corridors for transportation. Healthy Acadia promotes multiple projects to increase opportunities for daily healthy transportation for people of all ages.

Go Maine!
Safe Routes to Schools
Complete Streets
Transit Buses
Walk and Bike to School Days
Bike to Work Week

Downeast Community Partners
Downeast Transportation, Inc.
Friends In Action, Hancock County
Hancock County Planning Commission
Maine Department of Transportation competitive grants for transportation alternatives

For more information, contact:

Elsie Flemings, Executive Director, Healthy Acadia,

Patrick Adams, Bicycle Pedestrian Program Manager, MaineDOT,

Healthy Recreation

Healthy recreation serves as an important way in which we can incorporate physical activity into our daily lives. Many opportunities exist throughout the region for people of all ages to participate in active recreation. Outdoor walking, biking and hiking trails are excellent resources to enjoy nature and get exercise at no cost. Community centers, YMCAs, Senior Centers and Schools all provide recreational opportunities at varying costs. Community organizations provide a wide range of active recreational programming, from martial arts and yoga to pilates and dancing.

Acadia National Park (Schoodic Mount Desert Island regions)
Downeast Sunrise Trail (Ellsworth to Calais)
Birdsacre, Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary (Ellsworth)
Woodlawn Museum Trails (Ellsworth)
Ellsworth Falls Trail (Ellsworth)
Downeast YMCA (Ellsworth)
MDI YMCA (Bar Harbor)
Harbor House (Southwest Harbor)
Neighborhood House (Northeast Harbor)
Calais Recreation Center (Calais)
Maine Department of Conservation Trails Grants

For more information, contact:
Elsie Flemings, Healthy Acadia,

Land Use Planning

The environment around us shapes our health and our daily behavior. Impacts on our health, rising gasoline prices, and growing concern about climate change are among the factors encouraging us to find alternatives to automobile dependent sprawl. Land use planning is a process for communities to shape their spatial form and patterns of activities for long-term economic, social, and physical health. Healthy Acadia supports many opportunities to build communities in ways that support health, enhance the quality of life, and promote prosperity.

Smart Growth
Transit-Oriented Development
Great American Neighborhoods
Comprehensive Planning

Growsmart Maine
Hancock County Planning Commission Technical Assistance
Maine Department of Conservation
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Maine Department of Transportation competitive grants for transportation alternatives
Maine Department of Conservation Trails Grants

Elsie Flemings, Healthy Acadia,

Thomas Martin, Director, Hancock County Planning Commission,

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Did you know that lead poisoning is considered the top preventable environmental disease among young children? Lead is a toxin that can be especially harmful to children under the age of 6. Before the risk to young children was known, lead was used in many products, including paint. Paint manufactured after 1978 no longer contains lead, but older houses often still contain old lead paint. 

In Maine, lead dust from old paint is the most common cause of childhood lead poisoning. Lead dust collects on floors and other surfaces where children crawl and play with toys. When children, especially those under 3, put their hands and toys into their mouths, the lead dust gets into their bodies. 

Lead can have very serious and permanent effects on children’s growth and development, including: 

  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavioral problems
  • Hearing damage
  • Language or speech delays
  • Aggressive patterns of behavior 

Healthy Acadia encourages community members to assess your risks of lead exposure. If you reside in a home built before 1978, you could be exposing your children to dust from lead paint. A simple blood test is recommended for one- and two-year old children, which can help prevent permanent damage to a child's brain and nervous system. Click here for more information. 

Healthy Acadia and the Maine CDC Lead Poisoning Prevention Program work to raise awareness about how to prevent lead poisoning. It is critical to test your home, test your child, and learn how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. 

Healthy Acadia offers a variety of resources to help prevent lead poisoning across Hancock County. Please contact Maria Donahue at Healthy Acadia, 667-7171,


Healthy Acadia offers, Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 programming opportunities and resources for communities in Washington and Hancock counties. Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, developed by the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center and implemented in partnership with MaineHealth, incorporates evidence-based strategies for preventing obesity, with a focus on the importance of establishing healthy habits beginning in childhood. 

The Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program offers targeted curriculum and guidance for schools, childcare centers, out-of-school programs, healthcare practices and community organizations to change environments where children and families live, learn and play. Programming is centered around the daily 5-2-1-0 message: 5 or more fruits and vegetables; 2 hours or less of recreational screen time; 1 hour or more of physical exercise; and 0 sugar-sweetened beverages. Healthy Acadia staff works with childcare facilities, school, and out-of-school programs throughout Hancock and Washington counties to implement the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program, which provides participating sites with toolkits, online resources, training opportunities and technical assistance to help guide them in successfully supporting increased physical activity and healthy eating for children and youth.

Try these fun infused water recipes - an easy way to cut out sugary drinks and stay hydrated!

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0  is a partnership among Healthy Acadia, Maine Health and area hospitals and health centers aimed at improving the health of Maine children and families in Hancock and Washington counties. 

For Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 resources and programming opportunities in Hancock County, contact Julie Daigle at 667-7171 or In Washington County, please contact Georgie Kendall at 255-3741 or

Maine Healthy Air Coalition

Healthy Acadia is a member of the Maine Healthy Air Coalition, a group of statewide and local public health and healthcare organizations. We are concerned about Maine’s air quality and recognize the critical importance of good air quality to the health of our communities. The Coalition is committed to defending and protecting the Clean Air Act – a cornerstone law that has been working effectively to make our air healthier for over 40 years.

The most widespread air pollutants, ozone and particle pollution, can lead to serious health effects. Ozone, also known as smog, is created in the atmosphere by gasses that come out of tailpipes and smokestacks and mix with warm air and sunshine. Particle pollution is a mixture of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air; such particles come directly from tailpipes, smokestacks, wood fires, and other sources.

Half of the people in Maine live in counties with unhealthy air, according to the American Lung Association’s 2011 State of the Air Report. Unhealthy air leads to dangerous health effects for all of us, but the most vulnerable are children, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Maine families and businesses need healthy air to grow and succeed. Our health, our economic opportunities, and our quality of life all depend on clean and healthy air. When people are healthy, children do better in school, workers are more productive, and businesses can add jobs because their health costs are lower.

On December 18, 2013, Healthy Acadia's Board of Directors passed a Resolution in Support of the Clean Air Act. This act followed discussion and approval by Healthy Acadia's Community Advisory Council to recommend passage of the resolution to the Board in November. The Clean Air Act is recognized to be the only tool to reduce cross-state air pollution, and it has helped prevent 160,000 premature deaths and 1.7 million asthma attacks. For more information, download Healthy Acadia's resolution

For more information about Healthy Acadia's work with the Healthy Air Coalition, or to get involved contact:

Elsie Flemings at Healthy Acadia,

or the Maine Healthy Air Campaign Coordinator, Effie Craven, at

We build our towns and organize community systems to create ample opportunities for walking, biking and social movement. Physical activity is a viable option for recreation and transportation.
An Ellsworth resident conducts a sidewalk survey to identify strengths and challenges of the neighborhood for sidewalk access.