Helping Ensure Healthy Lives for Older Adults
N.C.Center for Health & Wellness Making Connections Across the State
In its first three years, Project EMMA had impressive results in encouraging older adults to improve their healthy livestyles. Now, UNC Asheville’s N.C. Center for Health & Wellness is joining forces with Project EMMA organizers to ensure this successful effort can be replicated across the state. A recent training session held on campus was the first step.
Project EMMA, (Eat better Move More Age well), is a collaboration among the Council on Aging of Buncombe County, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the YWCA of Asheville-Buncombe County. The project provided exercise classes and nutritious, locally grown food at six county nutrition sites, two senior housing facilities, and a home food-delivery system.
At the conclusion of its very first year, its funder, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, decided to renew its support based on its success—74 percent of participants noticed an improvement in their overall health, and 58 percent reported a change in a specific behavior that affected their health.
But one problem remained—how could Project EMMA be used as a model for other agencies across the state to establish similar programs.
Enter the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness, a new center at UNC Asheville that is focusing its efforts on becoming a state hub for the promotion of healthy living initiatives. The center wants to use its network of health and wellness contacts across the state to identify or develop tools for evaluating programs and replicating successful efforts in healthy living. Focus areas will initially be on healthy aging, prevention of childhood obesity and the enhancement of workplace wellness.
Project EMMA training was held at UNC Asheville in June with 16 participants from five counties across the region. The participants included leaders from senior centers and health care and fitness organizations for older adults. A panel of experts spoke about the logistics of Project EMMA and shared resources that will enable other groups to implement the project in other areas.
Laurie Stradley, director of state and community collaboration at the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness said, “Project EMMA has changed lives in Buncombe County for nearly four years, and it has the potential to do so much more if we can work together to replicate it in other areas. This training program is the first of many efforts by our center to foster opportunities for collaboration among community-based organizations to encourage healthy living, and prevent chronic disease and injuries among all North Carolinians.”
Wendy Marsh, executive director of the Council on Aging of Buncombe County, said, “The genuine interest in using Project EMMA as a prototype for improving health and wellness programming in senior service sites really impressed me. The questions were excellent, the creativity was encouraging, and I think people left talking about how to collaborate and make these changes happen.”
Another training session participant from the Council on Aging Cyndy Wallhauser, said, “Project EMMA’s success is centered around the collaborative efforts of our partners, like the YWCA, ASAP, the N.C. Center for Health & Wellness, and of course, the support from Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation. It is very exciting to take this replicable model to the next level by sharing Project EMMA with other communities and having a greater reach to older adults in North Carolina.”
To learn more about the efforts of the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness, visit http://ncchw.unca.edu/.