Gorham moves naturally toward being the happiest, healthiest community in Maine

Happy Healthy Gorham hikers
Sunday morning, my husband and I joined other Gorham (Maine) residents to explore some trails behind the high school’s baseball field. They’re right in downtown Gorham and I’m willing to bet a lot of people in the community (including us) didn’t even realize they exist.

Phil Arena, leading Happy Healthy Gorham hike

This is Phil Arena. He was our leader. A good one, too! He explained to us that some of the trails were used by students who ran cross country track. Some had made the sign several years ago to mark the trail. At one point, Gorham Railroad used to go through the area. Now it’s just a crisscross of trails.

Old Gorham town dump

As we moved deeper into the woods, we came upon what looked like a desert. It used to be the town dump, now bulldozed and filled in with sand. Apparently, in years’ past, high school students used to party here on weekends. Some stories to tell, I’m sure.

Happy Healthy Gorham hikers

The hike we took marked the first day of a week’s worth of Happy Healthy Gorham events. The goal of this week is to introduce residents to all that’s available in their town to help them “move naturally.” The entire community is invited to explore all of Gorham’s trails for walking, biking, and hiking.

Happy Healthy Gorham hike
They can also participate in numerous free activities that encourage people to move naturally. There’ll be some games as well — like a Gorham History Scavenger Hunt. Here’s what it says about the scavenger hunt on the Happy Healthy Gorham website. “This game will require you to move naturally while you track down little-known facts about Gorham.”

Happy Healthy Gorham hikers
Do you detect a theme for the week? There is one. Moving Naturally. Which is exactly how we moved along the trail. The pictures I’m including are so you can join us on our hike. Not so you can see what you missed, but to show you what you can look forward to if you get the chance to go on your own hike.

Happy Healthy Gorham, which is a three-year initiative, is the brainchild of Dr. Scott Lovaas, Interim Minister at First Parish Congregational Church in Gorham and UCC North Gorham. With the help of other Gorham residents and business and several sponsors, Dr. Lovaas and parishioner Kim Arena came up with four week-long programs, each with a different theme.

September 2017 Moving Naturally

November 2017 Kindling Kindness

February 2018 Growing Gratitude

April 2018 Eating Well

Happy Healthy Gorham hikers

Each will actively promote, educate, and elevate healthy living in Gorham,” said Dr. Lovaas, “and will be multi-generational and multi-sensory. Happy Healthy Gorham 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,”

The ultimate goal is to make Gorham the happiest, healthiest community in Maine. If the events scheduled for Moving Naturally are any indication, Gorham is well on its way! Take a look at the schedule below. If you’re in the area, do something really good for yourself and get moving! Or try something similar in your community.

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.