About the Organization:
The overarching goals of Active for Life, a multi-year initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), are to learn how to deliver research-based physical activity programs to large numbers of mid-life and older adults and to sustain such programs through existing community institutions including, but not limited to, health, aging, community, social, religious or recreational centers and agencies. Under the direction of Marcia G. Ory, Ph.D., MPH (PI/Director) and Diane M. Dowdy, Ph.D., C.H.E.S. (Co-PI/Deputy Director), RWJF established the Active for Life National Program Office (NPO) at the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health in College Station, Texas. Active for Life is one of several programs in the RWJF Active Living Consortium.
$8.7 million was allocated to fund nine community-based organizations for a four-year period to test the effectiveness of two promising interventions to promote physical activity in the general population of mid-life and older adults at health risk because of their sedentary lifestyles:
Active Living Every Day (ALED) is a comprehensive group-based behavior change program developed by behavioral scientists and interventionists at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas.
Active Choices (AC) is a six-month individually tailored telephone counseling program based on 20 years of systematic research and evaluation by public health researchers and community intervention specialists at Stanford Center for Research in Prevention.
The community-based Active for Life grantees include the following:
- Blue Shield of California; Woodland Hills, CA;
- Church Health Center of Memphis; Memphis, TN;
- Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio; Cincinnati, OH;
- Greater Detroit Area Health Council; Detroit, MI;
- FirstHealth of the Carolinas; Pinehurst, NC;
- Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington Inc.; Rockville, MD;
- The OASIS Institute; St. Louis, MO;
- San Mateo County Health Services; San Mateo, CA;
- YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago; Chicago, IL.
While each of the grantee sites are addressing sedentary (or irregularly active) adults over age 50, there is a wide variety of targeted populations, demonstrating diversity in location (i.e., urban, suburban, rural settings including senior centers, churches, schools, and senior housing facilities), ethnicity/race (White, African American, Latino, Filipino, Tongan, Asian, etc.), and socio-economic status.
Active for Life received the International Council on Active Aging Innovators Award for excellence and creativity in the health and wellness field and the Archstone Award (Honorable Mention) presented by the American Public Health Association for excellence in program innovation.
National Blueprint Leadership:
- Active for Life is a founding member of the Active Aging Partnership
- Responsibility for leadership for the cross-cutting National Blueprint Strategies to create a learning network to share evidence-based best practices on physical activity and aging.
Major Active for Life program accomplishments to this point include:
- Selection of nine AFL grantees from almost 500 brief proposals;
- Recruitment of a more diverse participant population than typically seen in research studies;
- Demonstration of success in increasing physical activity and decreasing depression and stress during the pilot study with over 800 participants;
- Development of a three-step sustainability strategic planning tool;
- Participation in RWJF’s Connect Initiative in Washington, DC to build relationships with legislators and legislative staff on Capitol Hill in an effort to educate policymakers about key prevention issues;
- Hosting a Congressional briefing held in September 2005 involving the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Congressional Fitness Caucus to explore the benefits of promoting physical activity for older Americans; and
- Enhancement of the AFL Web site to function as the nucleus of information dissemination for AFL grantees and health/community program professionals.
Future activities for the Active for Life National Program Office include:
- Reaching more diverse target populations with both ALED and AC programs as planned by the grantees;
- Collaborating with the independent evaluation team with both process and outcome assessments;
- Integrating the RE-AIM approach to enhance sustainability and dissemination of AFL programs;
- Strategic planning for Learning Network activities for the purpose of exploring the feasibility of providing an interactive Learning Network through which health, research, wellness and public health professionals can address issues, contribute to the development of programs and share information related to science-based information and initiatives on aging, physical activity and nutrition;
- Leading an intergenerational synergy demonstration project to involve low-income, disadvantaged children, 3 to 12 years of age with adults 50 and over in an effort to enhance the activity level and healthy food choices of both of these population groups;
- Coordinating activities with the broader RWJF Active Living Partnership and National Blueprint partners; and
- Providing overall leadership for translational research in the active aging arena.
Additional information about the Active for Life program can be found at www.activeforlife.info