Pictured here at the Woodlawn Museum Community Garden (from left to right) are URHC Advisory Board Co-Chair, Betsy Arntzen, Healthy Acadia’s Doug Michael, and Healthy Acadia’s Elsie Flemings. The development of the community garden was a collaborative effort led by URHC and Woodlawn Museum.
Union River Healthy Communities Passes Torch:
Work Lives On
July 27, 2012
HANCOCK COUNTY - In July, Union River Healthy Communities coalition formally closed its doors and donated its remaining funds and assets to support its sister organization Healthy Acadia, a Healthy Maine Partnership serving Hancock County.

Directed by Helena Peterson for ten years, and subsequently by Karen Wilcock, Union River Healthy Communities (URHC), was formed in 2001 to coordinate individuals and organizations coming together to improve health through education, advocacy and action in the Ellsworth region. URHC’s model was the international healthy communities coalition adopted by more than 3000 towns and cities in 50 countries. URHC used the broadest definition of health to include the full range of quality of life, and there is much to show for its eleven years of work improving health throughout the 20 towns it served in Hancock County.

“Since 2001, URHC engaged citizens and partner organizations in tackling many important health issues in our communities, and in forming a shared vision of health from community needs and values,” said Betsy Arntzen, eleven-year Advisory Board co-chair with Jo Cooper. “We published the Ellsworth Community Health Plan in 2003 based on community dialogues, and achieved its goals by 2009 when we published the Community Health Improvement Plan. We also published the Ellsworth Maine assets map and guide, showing the location of social services and recreational areas,” she added.

“Although changes in funding and staffing circumstances over the past 24 months has led us to pass our torch to Healthy Acadia, we know that the work of creating healthy communities in Hancock County will continue with Healthy Acadia’s leadership,” Arntzen explained.

URHC’s annual work included specific projects supporting healthy youth and school health programming, smoking cessation, and active seniors. In 2009 it created My Health Finder (www.myhealthfinder.org). URHC facilitated many community dialogues on public health issues such as transportation, substance abuse and sprawl.

“URHC has had an extraordinary impact that will benefit community members for generations to come,” stated Doug Michael, Healthy Acadia’s Executive Director.
“Their comprehensive and far reaching work will live on and spur new efforts across the region. We deeply appreciate URHC’s generosity to Healthy Acadia. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with URHC members and others as we work together improve health throughout Hancock County,” Michael added.

URHC’s work has addressed a wide variety of community health issues, from substance abuse prevention and active living to healthy eating and development of youth activities. A few of the many URHC accomplishments include leading efforts to make public recreation areas tobacco-free, creating community gardens, developing sidewalk surveys, implementing nutrition education programs, working with schools to create anti-bullying programs and comprehensive school health policies, creating an asset map of the region, and giving out thousands of dollars in mini-grants for health projects.

Healthy Acadia is a non-profit community health coalition serving the Downeast-Acadia region and is the Healthy Maine Partnership for Hancock County. For more information or to get involved, contact Healthy Acadia at 288-5331 or www.healthyacadia.org.

Press Release Contact: Elsie Flemings, Healthy Acadia, 288-5331 or elsie@healthyacadia.org