Strong Beginnings

Healthy Acadia is engaged in multiple initiatives aimed at supporting healthy development and resilience from birth to adulthood. 

Let's Go! 5-2-1-0
School Health
Downeast Youth Action Team
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

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

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. 

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 training 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 at or 667-7171


Downeast Youth Action Team

Healthy Acadia is committed to engaging youth from Hancock and Washington counties in opportunities to become agents of change in their schools and communities. Our Youth Engagement Coordinator has worked with faculty and students across the Downeast region to form and engage school- and community-based youth-led groups that work to identify social and health issues and create and implement action plans for positive change.

Healthy Acadia's Downeast Youth Action Team is a youth-driven platform that connects young people and their adult allies from across the two counties, providing resources and opportunities to further develop youth leadership skills. The mission of the Downeast Youth Action Team is to create youth-driven environments that provide young people in Downeast Maine the resources and opportunities to develop agency, community involvement, and leadership skills. This multi-faceted youth team challenges barriers and encourages brainstorming around issues of civic engagement, substance use prevention, development of healthy habits, social activism, equity, responsibility, accountability, and more.

Downeast Youth Action Team participants also organize and plan opportunities for youth to actively engage in their communities and inspire change, including Healthy Acadia’s annual Downeast Team Leadership Camp. By engaging these young people as stakeholders in our community, they will become more engaged in the discussions of communal issues and will be able to explore and provide innovative sustainable solutions.

For more information about the Downeast Youth Action Team, or to get involved, contact Corrie Hunkler at

DownEast Teen Leadership Camp 2020

Healthy Acadia’s DownEast Teen Leadership Camp (DETLC) is celebrating its 20th year with a modified program adapted to follow CDC and State of Maine guidelines currently in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Traditionally offered as a five-day residential summer program held at the University of Maine at Machias, DownEast Teen Leadership Camp challenges and empowers teens to make healthy choices and positively impact their lives and those in their communities. The Camp offers a safe and fun environment for teens to be themselves, form long-lasting friendships, and build their leadership skills. Generous support from community members, local businesses, and grantors will allow Healthy Acadia to offer Camp tuition-free this summer to ensure that all interested teens may attend. 

DownEast Teen Leadership Camp 2020 is scheduled for the week of July 27-31, and will be offered as five, one-day sessions, each at a different location, so that youth from around Washington County may attend the session closest to their community.  Camp staff are busy planning each fun-filled, day-long retreat - teens who attend will enjoy healthy snacks, games, inspiring presentations, and interactive workshops. On Friday, July 31, the final day of Camp 2020, nationally-acclaimed motivational speaker Ed Gerety will join via Zoom with an interactive workshop and a special camp closing. Day-long Camp sessions will be held during the week of July 27-31, 2020 at the following outside locations: 

Monday, July 27, 2020, Spednic Club field in Baileyville;

Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Cobscook Bay State Park, Day Use Area in Edmunds; 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Middle River Park in Machias;

Thursday, July 30, 2020, Sandy River Beach in Jonesport;

Friday, July 31, 2020, at Cherryfield Academy. 

During this time of COVID-19, Healthy Acadia’s DownEast Teen Leadership Camp strives to create a safe, welcoming environment for staff and campers. To ensure this, they will provide masks for campers, and will have a nurse on staff to conduct a morning health screening. Healthy Acadia will limit the number of participants in each session and practice safe hygiene practices and physical distancing. These safety measures are aligned with the Maine State COVID-19 Summer Day Camp Guidelines. 

The Camp will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Camp will conclude with all participants, family, and friends to join together virtually for a celebration of Downeast Teen Leadership Camp’s 20th Year. Washington County teens entering grades 7-9 this fall are invited to attend camp in their respected area for the day.

Register online here.

Space is limited, so register today! For more information contact Sara McConnell at (207) 255-3741 or by email at 


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 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 the 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 Steering Committee, who help plan the camp program for the following year.

For information about DETLC, click here, or contact Sara McConnell at 255-3741, or email

Healthy Acadia, in partnership with Healthy Peninsula, offers Early Childhood Consultation and Outreach (ECCO) services in Hancock County. ECCO services help to address to the unmet needs of children ages 0-8 to support positive change and improved outcomes.  

ECCO is a unique and creative program dedicated to early childhood intervention and is led by Ursula Hanson, a skilled licensed clinical social worker with years of clinical experience supporting children and families.  Ursula collaborates closely with child care staff, educators and families to develop effective strengths-based strategies and plans for children between the ages of 0 through 8.

ECCO services can be provided in the school and childcare settings (for entire classrooms, groups of students, or individual students), as well as for families in the home setting, for a child, several children, or entire families.

In the school and childcare settings, services may include classroom consultations, individualized and/or group interventions and the early identification of children with or at risk for social, emotional and behavioral challenges. Ursula supports team discussions and action planning to address any challenges or concerns that arise in the classroom, and can provide a variety of supports to teachers and childcare providers.  Resources for social and emotional learning tools and referrals to community resources are offered as well.

In the family setting, Ursula provides consultations and action planning, including working with families to provide coaching and modeling around parenting or other challenges. These may include limit setting, structure and routines, the importance of play, and positive relationships for supporting a child’s healthy development.  

Ursula also bring extensive experience and strong interest in the benefits of mindfulness techniques and offers mindfulness classes to teachers, students and parents.


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:

ECCO is a referral-based program and referral request forms can be accessed here.  

Any professional working closely with children, including: childcare providers, classroom teachers or principals, case workers, or others can make an ECCO referral.  Parents can also self-refer. 

For more information, please contact Ursula Hanson, LCSW:  Cell: 207-939-5993; Healthy Acadia: 207-667-7171; email:


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,  Groups of Youth Taking Action, 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. 

Healthy Acadia's Youth Engagement Coordinator offers technical assistance and tailored trainings for youth groups and their adult allies and advisors to support their work related to positive change in their schools and communities.  For more information or to get  involved, contact Gabe O'Brien at or call (207) 255-3741.

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 Youth Engagement Coordinator acts as a YPB facilitator and is 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 Gabe O'Brien or call 255-3741.

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.