Positive Social Development

Healthy Acadia and our partners are engaged in multiple initiatives to promote positive social development, including:

Let's Go! 5-2-1-0
Gender Diversity Project
School Health
Service Learning
Downeast Teen Leadership Camp
Early Childhood Consultation and Outreach Program (ECCO)
Youth Taking Action Groups
Youth Policy Boards

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

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 a program of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program implemented in partnership with MaineHealth. Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 incorporates evidence-based strategies for preventing obesity with a focus on the importance of establishing healthy habits beginning in childhood.  Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, in partnership with Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, Downeast Community Hospital and Mount Desert Island Hospital, has partnered with Healthy Acadia to provide Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 programming and resources to help to improve the health of Maine youth and families in Hancock and Washington counties. The Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program offers targeted curriculum and guidance for schools, childcare and out-of-school programs, healthcare practices and community organizations to change environments where children and families live, learn and play.  For more information, visit www.letsgo.org

For more information about Let’s Go 5-2-1-0 opportunities in Washington County, contact Georgie Kendall at 255-3741 or Georgie@healthyacadia.org.  In Hancock County, contact Julie Daigle (for school settings) at 667-7171 or Julie@healthyacadia.org or Katie Freedman (for childcare centers) at Katie@healthyacadia.org.

Let's Go 5-2-1-0 programming is funded in part by Maine Prevention Services, Maine Center of Disease Control & Prevention Department of Health and Human Services. 

Gender Diversity Project

The Downeast Gender Diversity Project works to reduce the ignorance about and prejudice against transgender and gender nonconforming people, and thereby reduce discrimination, bullying, social isolation, depression, and inadequate social and health services.

We provide resources about the experience of transgender and gender nonconforming people in school, health, social service, and community settings in Hancock and Washington counties. We collaborate with local LGBTQ groups, provide community education, and offer support opportunities for transgender individuals and allies.


For more information, contact:
Clara Baker, Gender Diversity Project Director, 479-4599, clara@healthyacadia.org

School Health

Establishing healthy behaviors during childhood helps ensure that young people will have the greatest chance for health and wellbeing throughout their lives. Schools can play a key role in promoting the health and safety of young people, helping students establish healthy lifelong behaviors and attitudes.

The health of young people is strongly linked to their academic success, and the academic success of students is strongly linked with their health. Therefore, keeping kids healthy is fundamental to their success in learning, and effective school health policies and programs can help to close the educational achievement gap.

Healthy Acadia supports school health through a number of initiatives. We work with schools to promote school health policies, to support substance use prevention, to increase nutrition and physical activity, and more.


No matter what challenges you have faced in your life, you have the ability to bounce back. If you are living and breathing today, you are resilient! We all are born with internal personal strengths that we rely on when difficulties arise. These strengths pull us out of our challenges. When we have a clear understanding of these strengths, we can utilize them more efficiently and bounce back faster and with more smarts. Programs, policies and interactions that are rooted in the philosophy of resiliency help people live a more healthy, fulfilling life through their own design.

Healthy Acadia is committed to incorporating the philosophy of resiliency in our initiatives and interactions. We also promote trainings in resiliency for community members and providers. Tenants of resiliency include:

  • “What’s right with you is more important than what is wrong with you.”
  • It is your innate strength that always ends up pulling you out of a difficult situation – when you know your strengths, you bounce back from adversity faster.
  • Having positive relationships, developing opportunities for meaningful participation, maintaining high expectations, and knowing boundaries all support individual, organizational and community resiliency.

Acadia Family Center
Nan Henderson

For more information, contact:
Tara Young (Hancock County): tara@healthyacadia.org or 667-7171

Terri Woodruff (Washington County): terri@healthyacadia.org or 255-3741

Service Learning

Service-learning is a structured learning experience in schools that connects classroom struction with community experience by engaging youth in their schools and communities. Service-learning creates an opportunity for students to identify, research and solve community challenges, and to subsequently evaluate their learning and effectiveness. Service learning includes three key elements:

  • Academic Integrity – the project fits an integral part of the curriculum.
  • Student Ownership – students are involved in project selection, planning, and implementation.
  • Apprentice Citizenship – students practice developing real solutions to real issues with real community partners in collaboration with their classroom teacher.

Healthy Acadia is committed to supporting Service Learning in schools throughout the Downeast Acadia region. We take every opportunity to engage with students, classes and schools in service learning projects. We encourage schools to pursue integration of service learning opportunities wherever possible. Currently, the Mount Desert Island Regional School System has a coordinated service learning program, with an Americorps Vista Volunteer Service Learning Coordinator. We partner with the coordinator and the school system to support and engage with their service learning initiatives.

For more information, contact:
Maria Donahue, maria@healthyacadia.org

DownEast Teen Leadership Camp

2017 Downeast Teen Leadership Camp is scheduled for July 24-28!

2017 DETLC flyer (PDF) 

2017 DETLC Application Form (PDF) 

The DownEast Teen Leadership Camp (DETLC) is an annual, five-day residential camp for students entering grades 7,8 and 9 held at the University of Maine at Machias during the last week of July/early August. The main focus of this camp is to deter students from using drugs and alcohol in the future by using a different approach: positive reinforcement.

Philosophy: DETLC is founded on the belief that adolescents can make positive decisions regarding their lives if they have:

  • Accurate information
  • Positive self-esteem
  • Understanding of their motivations and goals
  • Coping skills (decision-making, goal-setting, assertiveness, etc.)
  • Positive role models
  • A positive support network

Goals: DETLC is designed to provide students, entering grades 7, 8 or 9 with the opportunity to develop skills and attitudes that will prevent adolescent involvement with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by:

  • Providing ways to enhance self-esteem in self and in others
  • Student Ownership – students are involved in project selection, planning, and implementation.
  • Developing awareness of positive alternatives to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use as a coping mechanism.
  • Promoting development of problem solving, decision-making, goal setting, and other coping skills.
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug issues.
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug issues.
  • Motivating students to use their knowledge and skills to be positive role models, and to become involved with school/community activities to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other illegal drug use by adolescents.

During the School Year: After camp is over, students are able to stay involved with DETLC by means of the DETLC Advisory Board, who help plan the camp program for the following year.
For information about DETLC, contact Terri Woodruff at 255-3741 or email terri@healthyacadia.org.

Healthy Acadia, in partnership with Healthy Peninsula, is offering Early Childhood Consultation and Outreach (ECCO) services. ECCO provides services by an early childhood expert to educators, child care staff and parents to develop effective strengths-based strategies and plans that support children’s success across environments. ECCO consultants work with child care providers, Head Start centers, preschools, early elementary classrooms, and in homes with parents and foster parents. Services can be utilized for one child or for groups of children. ECCO responds to the unmet needs of children to support positive change and improved outcomes in Hancock County and beyond.  

ECCO Provides:

  • Classroom observations and home visits by expert early childhood consultant (s) who identify and highlight skills and natural strengths of all individuals involved including the child, parent, and all providers.
  • A strengths-based foundation for strategies that are collaboratively developed to change outcomes for a single child or a group of children.
  • Parent/provider skill building through coaching, modeling, and/or trainings. ECCO offers trainings to groups of providers or parents in areas of interest.
  • Ongoing support to all participants to ensure that children are successful. Based on the Georgetown University’s best-practice model entitled Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, ECCO effectively helps children achieve new goals.

ECCO’s Impact:

  • Adults who feel unable to meet the needs of a child or need support with difficult transitions for a child or children gain new insights, strategies and skills.
  • Families who experience difficulties when trying to set limits, boundaries, or create routines with their child or children become more effective and positive.
  • Individuals who find that children in their care struggle with too much energy, impulsivity, difficulty following rules, or effectively communicating their needs or wants gain improved outcomes.
  • Adults increase their understanding and skills to more effectively respond to typical and atypical child development (social, emotional, cognitive, motor, sensory, etc.).
  • Teachers or child care providers who are challenged by a child’s behavior that is affecting other children and keeping the child from being successful in their learning environment report improvements that change the classroom environment.

Referrals to ECCO:

Any professional working closely with children including: childcare providers, classroom teachers or principals, case workers, or others can make an ECCO referral.  Parents can self-refer.  To make a referral please contact Ursula Hanson, LCSW:  Cell: 207-939-5993; Healthy Acadia: 207-667-7171; email: Ursula@healthyacadia.org.


Healthy Acadia, in partnership with the Maine Youth Action Network, or the MYAN, a Youth Engagement Initiative of the Opportunity Alliance based in South Portland, engages youth in grades 7-12 in youth groups and youth-adult partnerships with the overall goals to increase resilience among youth, reduce youth substance use, and encourage youth voice in public policy development.  

The MYAN has contracted with public health organizations in each of the 9 Maine Public Health Districts to support District Youth Coordinators who are charged with developing and maintaining local networks of Youth-Adult Partnerships,  Youth Taking Action Groups and Youth Policy Boards in each District. Healthy Acadia has partnered with the MYAN to serve the geographic area of District 7, which includes Hancock and Washington counties. 

The MYAN’s Youth Taking Action Program (YTA) is a free, academic year-long workshop series designed for existing youth groups of 5 or more students at the middle or high school level who want to take action to affect positive change in their school or community. The Youth Taking Action curriculum offers a flexible framework and practical suggestions to navigate youth groups and advisors through their year-long projects and/or campaigns.

The YTA curriculum incorporates a “Challenge by Choice” approach to youth engagement and participation: youth are invited to voluntarily take part in activities but always have a choice about how they want to participate. This concept recognizes that forced participation is detrimental to participants' learning, feeling of safety, personal values, and their own definition of success. Challenge by Choice nurtures a caring and safe learning environment for youth. 

Our District Youth Coordinators offer technical assistance and tailored trainings for Youth Taking Action Groups and their adult advisors to support their work related to prevention and public health.  For more information about Youth Taking Action, or to get your group involved in the program, email Tracey Carlson (Washington County) or call 255-3741; or Tara Young (Hancock County) at 667-7171.

Healthy Acadia, in partnership with the Maine Youth Action Network, or the MYAN, a Youth Engagement Initiative of the Opportunity Alliance based in South Portland, engages youth in grades 7-12 in youth groups and youth-adult partnerships with the overall goals to increase resilience among youth, reduce youth substance use, and encourage youth voice in public policy development.  

The MYAN has contracted with public health organizations in each of the 9 Maine Public Health Districts to support District Youth Coordinators who are charged with developing and maintaining local networks of Youth-Adult Partnerships,  Youth Taking Action Groups and Youth Policy Boards in each District. Healthy Acadia has partnered with the MYAN to serve the geographic area of District 7, which includes Hancock and Washington counties. 

Youth Policy Boards (YPB) offer an opportunity for young people to be involved in local policy discourse.  The MYAN’s YPB model creates a space for members to develop and/or recommend reforms to policies that directly impact their lives. Participants will investigate a public policy issue, draft recommendations, and explore implementation of their ideas, similar to the Youth Taking Action groups, our Youth Policy Boards employ a Challenge by Choice model that offers a personalized level of engagement.

Youth Policy Boards are comprised of 5 (minimum) to 12 (or more) students.  Students may be recruited from across the public health district to form a single board, or more locally (school district, or individual school) if numbers are sufficient. will identify community public health need that is not currently being met and that might be addressed through either improving / changing existing structures or developing new strategies, policies, and / or protocols.

 Student input into public policy development, review, and reform and offers meaningful civic engagement opportunities for youth while enhancing the underlying policies. Policymakers also benefit from youth research, recommendations, and implementation ideas, and will have a better understanding of the limitations and reach of existing policies. 

Members are encouraged to think about social issues and / or concerns affecting their community in terms of equity, disparity, access, prevention and impact, as related to current practices, policies or protocols as a starting point for developing their area of focus.

MYAN has offered these general areas of focus for YPBs:

  • Youth substance use (including tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, opiates, addiction more generally) 

  • Bullying prevention (including bias-based harassment, exclusion, name-calling, threats/violence, school discipline policies) 

  • Adolescent mental health (including access to services, treatment, informal supports) 

Model and Timeline

The YPB model has four phases: Training, Fieldwork, Policy Development, and Implementation. These phases are designed to take place over two academic years.

During the first year, members complete the Training, Fieldwork, and Policy Development components; the year ends with a report of researching findings and recommendations, as well as a presentation of those recommendations to policymakers and local stakeholders. 

During the second year, YPB members complete the Training and Implementation components of the program; and they use the first year report as a springboard to pilot one or more recommendations.

Our District Youth Coordinators act as YPB facilitators, responsible for structuring and leading the sessions and offering support, recommendations, guidance, and assistance to members. Ultimately, the program design is youth-led and rooted in the authentic experiences of YPB members. Young people are the driving decision makers for research, policy development, and implementation. For more information, or for assistance with forming a Youth Policy Board in your school or community, email Tracey Carlson (Washington County) or call 255-3741; or Tara Young (Hancock County) at 667-7171.

We provide the positive supports necessary for every child to aspire, learn and grow safely into healthy, resilient and contributing community members. Mental illness, domestic violence and other social ills are declining while educational attainment is on the rise.
A young community member & her dad plant a seed with Healthy Acadia staff a YMCA-sponsored Healthy Kids event. Healthy activities like this promote resiliency and positive social development.

Downeast Teen Leadership CAmp features team building and group activities that foster positive social development and increased resilience for youth.