Its ability to adapt to the ever-changing regulations surrounding COVID-19 and its success in remaining open throughout the pandemic were significant reasons why Coastal Kids Preschool in Damariscotta was presented with the Fourth Annual Coulombe Center for Health Improvement Award for Innovation on June 23 at Coastal Prime Restaurant in Boothbay Harbor. Lisa Conway, the Executive Director of Coastal Kids, accepted the award, from Paul Coulombe and Anni Pat McKenney, director of the Center.
Created in 2018, this award highlights non-profit community partner organizations who are doing innovative work and improving the lives of those living and working in Lincoln County. The goal is to further develop innovative programs that already exist locally.
Nominations for the Innovation Award are made by the community. A panel of volunteers from the St. Andrews Community Committee, the Coulombe Center and the LincolnHealth Steering Committee review nominations and select an award winner. Self-nomination is not allowed.
The preschool developed many new strategies to make its way through the pandemic, planning and executing its summer programs in June 2020, which provided a wealth of information for the team as it planned for preschool’s opening in September. Coastal Kids shared its practices and protocols with many local area schools.
Andrew Russ, MD, was the guest speaker and he talked about the importance of communication during these unprecedented times as well as the relationships that have been strengthened with the schools during the pandemic.
“What it all comes down to is the interpersonal connections,’’ Russ said. “I didn’t really know Lisa very well before this, and we certainly know each other well now.”
Previous winners of the Coulombe Center for Health Improvement’s Innovation Award include: Healthy Lincoln County’s Lulu the Lunch Wagon Program; Sara Cawthorn and Megan Taft from Twin Village Food Bank; and Haley Bezon from Hearty Roots. The award winner receives $3,000 to invest in its program, and Coastal Village Preschool anticipates upgrading its outdoor classrooms and playgrounds by creating wheelchair and tricycle access, the availability of shade and new playground equipment.