Gorham, Maine recently kicked off an initiative to become the happiest, healthiest community in the state. Now, maybe there already is a Maine community claiming that title. If that’s the case, please announce yourself! Perhaps it will trigger a happy, healthy competition — something I see as a potential win, win situation.
The Gorham initiative is the brainchild of Dr. Scott Lovaas, the interim minister at First Parish Congregational Church in Gorham and UCC North Gorham. He and parishioner Kim Arena spent several months discussing the possible merits of such an endeavor and how best to proceed with a wide variety of community members.
One result was the creation of four week-long programs. Each one will offer dozens of events, contests, speakers, and activities and will include people, organizations, and businesses from throughout the community. They will all “actively promote, educate, and elevate healthy living in Gorham and will be multi-generational and multi-sensory.”
At the kick-off event, which was held at the Gorham Public Library on May 17, Dr. Lovaas explained the inspiration behind the three-year initiative. “[It] draws upon Robert Putnam’s work on social capital, Dan Buettner’s work on Blue Zones, Michael Pollan’s work on food justice, Jeff Speck’s work on walkable cities and Robert Emmons work on gratitude,” he said.
Also speaking about why they were behind the initiative were University of Southern Maine president Glen Cummings, me (Diane Atwood, Catching Health blogger), Stacey and Jesse Coleman, owners of My-FIT-24, Heather Perry, superintendent of the Gorham School District, and parishioner Steve Smith, who also moderated the event.
I told the audience I was excited about the initiative because we can all be in it together. “When you’ve got a partner it makes it so much easier to be motivated,” I said. “If we work toward our individual goals together, we’ll be well on our way to ensuring that Gorham is the happiest and healthiest town in Maine.
The details are still being worked out, but here’s a short summary of the focus of each of the four programs. As they are developed, you’ll be able to find more details on the recently launched Happy Healthy Gorham website.
September 2017 Moving Naturally
We will explore all of Gorham’s trails and neighborhoods for walking, biking, and hiking. Events will include town-wide challenges, games and scavenger hunts.
November 2017 Kindling Kindness
The practice of kindness is the daily, friendly, caring form of love. Kindness is humble and whimsical as well as deeply touching and profound.
February 2018 Growing Gratitude
The practice of gratitude is a super drug that is free. Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms our lives in many ways.
April 2018 Eating Well
We will look at ways to get back to the basics of good, healthy eating.
How to participate
If you would like to learn more about Happy Healthy Gorham, have some ideas, would like to participate — anything — send an email to Kim Arena.