Franklin Countys First News

To improve health, Rangeley looks to the outdoors

View of Rangeley Lake in Maine. (Jim Dwinal)

RANGELEY - A collaborative effort between several organizations is looking at new ways of promoting healthy lifestyles for residents of the area by using one of the most obvious resources: the area itself.

"The jury is in. Being outdoors and active improves health outcomes," Executive Director of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust David Miller said.

The trust has teamed up with Rangeley Health & Wellness to take a closer look at what Miller described as interrelated topics. Outdoor recreation, healthier statistics and even economic development all play important roles within each other's stories, he said, and looking at the backdrop of a life set in the Rangeley area only makes the answer more obvious.

"This is not just a program. This is a long-term, community-wide commitment," Miller said.

Others have quickly stepped up to the plate to join RLHT and RHW, including local schools and the Greater Franklin Development Council and is already gaining attention state wide.

Called Rangeley Connects, the effort is based on a model developed by similar organizations in Iceland 20 years ago. The country once had some of the highest rates of teen drug and alcohol abuse, but has dramatically lowered that number since implementing the practices of "The Iceland Model". The effort has primarily focused on promoting more time outdoors, with more structured activities and quality time with community. Miller said Rangeley Connects aims to do the same.

"We want to start with young people. Kids in this area already do a lot outside, but we want to offer even more opportunities for young people to take advantage of this incredible place we live," he said.

That would ideally look like a comprehensive range of program offerings, with different avenues of support such as help with transportation, Miller added. Rangeley Connects also wants to put an emphasis on helping senior citizens spend more time outdoors in an active way. Many of the specifics of Rangeley Connects will be nailed down after collecting data from a number of surveys that the leadership team plans to start rolling out next spring. The surveys will not only help create a base line to start with, but will help garner ideas for programming.

The heavy lifting is expected to come with working-age adults, Miller said. For families who are working multiple jobs, have multiple kids, and are juggling multiple schedules, finding time to engage with Rangeley Connects could be difficult. Miller said they hope to reach more adults by way of the students- connecting with parents and simply coordinating more of what is already being offered locally.

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3 Responses »

  1. This program has real long term potential

    I'd like to see (hopefully) positive reports how the community is reacting to and participating in the program down the line

  2. This is a great idea and I'm glad to see that towns that are starting to implement this as a way to help people with their health. My only concern would be to watch for issues regarding human impact on biodiversity. The increase usage could lead to losing the very thing that you send people out there to see.

  3. A flip side of Alan's potential overuse/abuse of the "enviroment" concerm just might might be as more folks actually get out and spend time in the natural suroundings that the area provides is that it could engender a heightened awareness and appreciation for the need for enhanced measures to preserve it for the future