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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

East Providence-URI project seeks seniors interested
in making changes to become healthier

KINGSTON, R.I., -- May 11, 2000 -- East Providence residents 65 and older who want to help themselves, their families and, in the long run, their community, are being asked to become involved in the SENIOR Project, a collaboration of the city of East Providence and the University of Rhode Island.

For the project to be successful, however, it needs 1,300 senior participants interested in living healthier lives. The SENIOR (Study of Exercise and Nutrition In Older Rhode Islanders) Project is designed to encourage participants to eat more fruits and vegetables and to exercise regularly. URI and East Providence officials held a news conference today at the East Providence Senior Center to encourage participation by the city's senior citizens.

It is being funded by a $2.8 million National Institute of Aging grant awarded to the URI President's Health Promotion Partnership, which uses innovative methods developed at URI to promote healthy behaviors among various populations. The interventions reach participants at various stages of readiness to change their behaviors.

The grant is the largest in the three-and-a-half-year history of the partnership.

"This grant gives us an unusual opportunity to bring to East Providence the research of our faculty and students and the strategies developed to help people live well in their senior years," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "This will be a partnership of the kind we envisioned seven years ago when we developed a new paradigm for learning and serving."

"We want people to see this as a real opportunity, said URI Professor of Gerontology Phillip G. Clark, who also heads the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, which is based at URI. "This project is a chance for individuals to learn about making healthy choices. We hope they see participation as a way to give back to themselves, their children and grandchildren.

"We see the participants as heroes, people who want to act as role models and whose efforts will help seniors across the country live healthier, longer lives," Clark said.

In addition, full participation by East Providence residents will in the long run help other seniors across the state and potentially across the nation. When the project is completed, the results will be published in national journals.

In the initial phase, teams from URI will fan out across the city to meet with community and senior groups to provide information and a chance for those interested to register. The SENIOR Project also encourages those who want to participate to call the project number at 435-1910.

"We're looking forward to meeting with the residents of East Providence to provide them with information about this important project," Clark said.

Participants will be assigned into four different groups, with each getting a different intervention:

physical activity intervention

fruit and vegetable intervention

both physical activity and fruit and vegetable intervention

fall prevention intervention group (control group)

The actual interventions will last for one full year, and will consist of: periodic interviews at the beginning of the project, and at 12 and 24 months; a health promotion manual, individual assessments and reports, monthly newsletters and telephone follow-ups.

The intervention phase will begin in June, and recruitment of participants will continue through the end of the year.

Clark emphasized that the project is not interested in limiting people's diet in any way. "We just want to add fruits and vegetables and exercise," he said. "We're also not running exercise groups or holding meetings with dieticians. Our program is only about education and follow-up phone calls."

Clark said he and members of his team are also approaching East Providence businesses to provide incentives for those who become involved. "Specifically, we are asking businesses across the city to consider becoming a SENIOR Project sponsor, by offering coupons, discounts, specials, products or other types of incentives to residents who sign up to participate in the project," Clark said.

Sponsors will receive community-wide recognition on SENIOR Project materials and will be listed as official sponsors in a program of recruitment promotions.

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For Information: Phillip G. Clark 401-874-2689, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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