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August 20th, 2004 Contact: AoA Press Office
(202) 401-4541

U.S. Administration On Aging Seeks Partners To Promote Healthy Aging

The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) is announcing that it will start enrolling partners on September 1 in a new campaign called “You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging.” The campaign aims to boost physical activity and improve food choices among older Americans, and is based on growing awareness among public health officials and medical experts that even modest improvements in diet and activity can promote healthy aging.

“ Today there are 80 million Americans over the age of 50. Many individuals are aging well and living longer than any time in history. Still far too many people are inactive and sedentary, said Josefina G. Carbonell, AoA’s Assistant Secretary for Aging. “We can do more, and our best weapons are literally in our own hands: the food we choose to eat, and the activities that get us moving. Older adults tend to be healthier, feel better, and maintain their mobility and independence longer when they take these simple steps,” she added.

The You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging Campaign is a part of HHS’s Steps to a HealthierUS initiative– launched in 2003 by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson—to help all Americans make healthier choices. For older Americans, healthy choices are especially important. Medical research shows that a healthy diet and physical activity can reduce the onset of chronic diseases and their risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancers, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as obesity.

AoA developed the You Can! campaign as a strategy that builds on the commitment and local experience of community organizations in every state. The agency will provide a complete kit to organizations that cater to seniors and decide to enroll that includes activity guides, publicity templates, and rewards for participants. In turn, the participating organization agrees to implement campaign elements, large or small, in its community.

“We’ve worked hard to build a solid campaign that our partners can easily and safely adapt to their own community and to their own level of resources. I am proud to invite community organizations across the country to sign on to this worthy endeavor, ” Carbonell said.

“AoA really understands our community and the people we serve,” said Jackie Sims, Executive Director of the Danville-Boyle County Gathering Place for Senior Adults in Danville, Kentucky. “AoA recognizes the importance of addressing lifestyle choices at the local level, and this toolkit is full of items that make it easy for groups like mine to get started easily and quickly. Our seniors want to be involved, to try new things, and we are delighted to be able to participate in the You Can! campaign.”

The free toolkit includes material to help partners publicize the campaign and recruit individuals (step-by-step publicity guide, letterhead, ready-to-print logos), a guidebook presented in a building-block format that contains week-by-week activities for participants; and tools and incentives for older Americans who participate (logbook to chart suggested activities, certificates). The campaign will also sponsor national activities such as a national challenge event in Fall 2005.

To become a You Can! partner and introduce older Americans in your community to the campaign, log on to: You Can! Steps to Healthier Aging. Enrollment begins September 1st.