Health ... and aging

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Integrating the generations to improve health for all

Oasis Institute

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Health programs can include all age groups; young people can provide respite care or health literacy, and older adults can serve as mentors to teach young children healthy behaviors. The different generations can work together to strengthen the health of all community members. There are several national programs that funders can replicate and receive technical assistance to bring these models to their communities.

  • Five & Fit, a program of the Intergenerational Center at Temple University, is an early childhood obesity prevention project that mobilizes older adults (age 55+) to work with pre-school children, their families and teachers in changing behaviors related to healthy food choices, regular exercise, and rituals such as regular bedtimes and mealtimes. Outcomes for all participants—children, parents, teachers, and older adult team members—have been positive. Children are eating and requesting new fruits and vegetables; parents are learning that their children will try new foods; ECE centers are integrating nutrition, activity, and obesity prevention activities into their  program; ECE staff are learning more about what prevents or reduces obesity in preschool-aged children; and older volunteers are not only increasing their understanding about how to prevent or reduce obesity in children, but also making changes to improve their own health.

The Deerbrook Charitable Trust provided a $200,000 two-year grant to develop, pilot, and implement this program. Local funders can now bring this program to their communities.

  • CATCH Healthy Habits is an evidence-based intergenerational physical activity and nutrition program that benefits two generations: children and adults age 50+. Older adult volunteers, as trained youth mentors and program facilitators, conduct a series of one-hour sessions to children grades K to 5 after school and during the summer. Sessions include hands-on nutrition lessons, preparing and consuming nutritious snacks, and engaging in physical activities. Results have shown improvement in the health of both adult and child participants.

The WellPoint Foundation provided an initial grant of $2.7 million to implement this program in 18 cities across 14 states.

With this funding, the OASIS Institute has partnered with local and national partners, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCAs, school districts, parks and recreation departments, Area Agencies on Aging, and other community organizations who serve older adults and children.

A local funder could provide capital for the initial implementation, which, depending on scope, geography, and the nonprofit’s needs, could cost $30,000. In communities currently offering the program, local funders could leverage their funds by supporting expansion to other locations, ongoing recruitment and training costs, materials, and other program-related costs.