News

Aug 7, 2015

Planning Grant Promotes Youth Health in Bridgton, Casco, Naples and Sebago

The Healthy Lakes Healthy Maine Partnership (HMP) – a project of the Public Health Program at the Opportunity Alliance – was awarded a $40,000 Healthy Communities Planning Grant by The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) to convene efforts to improve health among 13-25 year olds.

The Healthy Lakes Healthy Maine Partnership (HMP) – a project of the Public Health Program at the Opportunity Alliance – was awarded a $40,000 Healthy Communities Planning Grant by The Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) to convene efforts to improve health among 13-25 year olds.

The Healthy Youth ↔ Healthy Lake Region (HYHLR) project is guided by a community coalition – including both youth and adults. The HYHLR project started in November 2014 with a focus on engaging community members in Bridgton, Naples, Casco, and Raymond – which make up the Lake Region School District. Coalition members developed the following mission for HYHLR: “building a strong community network that supports young people’s growth into healthy adults.” HYHLR’s first 18 months, funded with a Pre-Planning Grant from MEHAF, focused on a community health needs assessment. Coalition members surveyed and interviewed individuals and community organizations to identify the main health problems faced by youth and young adults. Youth themselves had a major role in project leadership and ensured a strong response from youth to the assessment.

Stress, anxiety and depression, along with a lack of social supports and unhealthy lifestyles, were identified as the top barriers to health. The Lake Region community is not unique in experiencing these challenges. According to the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, one in four Maine high schoolers has experienced depression. Solutions for addressing these barriers to youth health will be tailored to the community. Healthy Lakes HMP will use the 18-month Planning Grant to facilitate involvement from a broad range of community members in developing an action plan. This plan will be developed through analysis of community resources and assets, identifying gaps in opportunities, research on best-practice strategies, and a clear understanding of the vision of the community on the future of youth and young adults.

Lake Region High School students will play a pivotal role as paid Youth Apprentices. Healthy Lakes HMP hopes for HYHLR to secure an Implementation Grant from MeHAF in 2017 to support carrying out the action plan.

Healthy Lakes HMP is looking to connect with community members and organizations who are interested in becoming involved. For more information, please contact Jana Richards: 207-553-5809 or jana.richards@opportunityalliance.org.

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