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Winter Park Health Foundation

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Winter Park Health Foundation

With a mission to make a positive difference in people’s lives by creating the healthiest community in the United States, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) supports programs and initiatives that improve the health of youths, older adults, and the community-at-large in Central Florida.

As Diana Silvey, WPHF’s Program Director explains, “Older adults make up the tapestry of a community, and to ignore them is to ignore the health of a community.”

WPHF work groups, made up of WHPF trustees and of community members invited for their expertise in and enthusiasm for the targeted area, do much of the work for each of the three focus areas.

While working to create a healthful, elder-friendly community environment, with an emphasis on prevention, WPHF has tackled projects ranging from falls prevention and brain boosting activities to transportation and chronic disease management. Priority areas for interventions include promoting healthy behaviors; encouraging lifelong learning, meaningful service, and employment; enhancing and strengthening underlying support systems; and making aging issues a community-wide priority.

Within its guidelines, the Older Adults Work Group can make investments that respond to immediate community needs, support innovative and new programs, and leverage its funding to build community awareness of older adults issues. Each year, WHPF makes grants between $400,000 and $500,000 to improve the health of older adults.

Feeding Older Adults in Need

WPHF’s support is often responsive to the immediate and most critical needs of older adults in the community—food, for example. (Recent AARP Foundation research shows, one in 11 older Americans were at risk of hunger as recently as 2009—nearly an 80 percent increase since 2001.) WPHF awarded a grant of $52,250 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. The Food Bank then collaborated with 50 AARP volunteers to assemble nearly 5,500 10-pound food packs, which included items from all of the major food groups. (A focus group made up of older adults guided the selection of the contents.) Each food pack, which could feed one older adult for four days, also contained contact information for community resources and services. Community distribution sites included food pantries, faith communities, low-income senior housing communities, and a number of Walgreens pharmacies. 

Boost Your Brain

In 2009, through its Older Adults Workgroup, the Foundation launched Boost Your Brain, an initiative focused on helping older adults lead a brain-healthy lifestyle through regular participation in physical activities, nutrition, socialization, spirituality, and mental stimulation. The initiative began with a day-long brain-health education program, featuring experts in the field. Building on that work, the WPHF, in 2011, awarded five grants totaling over $105,000 to community organizations for programs designed to enhance the brain health of older adults. This initial work led to a planning grant that built upon community interest, positive evaluative data, and continued work. The plan’s purpose was to integrate the brain health message into existing community-wide efforts.

Buddy Program Benefits Students and Older Adults

As part of its focus on healthful behaviors, WPHF supported a program that pairs older adults with students to encourage walking and help prevent traumatic brain injury, a serious condition that can result from a fall. Students and older adults buddied up for regular walks as part of a $10,500 grant-funded project conducted by the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences.
Just before the end of the semester, participating older adults were offered a free home assessment, which identified those areas in the home that posed a fall risk, conducted by a specially trained consultant paid for through the grant. This new assessment protocol will be integrated into the existing curriculum and will become a permanent part of the education of future students. The project has resulted in an improved education program for occupational therapy assistants and better health and safety for the older adults.


Help us pursue our mission and strengthen grantmaking to support the needs and potential of older people.