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Exercise and Sport Science Recognized for Service to Seniors


USF exercise and sport science students model an activity to seniors meant to strengthen muscles and improve balance at the 30th Street Senior Center in San Francisco's Mission district. (File photo)

The University of San Francisco’s exercise and sport science department was recently presented with a community service award for providing health promotion and falls prevention courses at senior centers throughout San Francisco.

Since 2005, about four ESS students each semester have helped implement Always Active program, a 12-week research-based falls prevention exercise regimen for older adults who have experienced recent falls.

Initially piloted at the nonprofit 30th Street Senior Center in 2005, part of the On Lok network, the popularity of Always Active led to On Lok implementing the $200,000 per year grant-funded program at eight other senior centers in San Francisco in partnership with the nonprofit San Francisco Senior Centers Inc., said Christian Thompson, associate professor of exercise and sport science and developer of the falls prevention course.

For its committed community service, ESS, Thompson, and his students were honor by On Lok, California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, and California Senator Mark Leno in a ceremony in October.

“Dr. Thompson and USF’s ESS students have been key in providing essential programming on falls prevention, as well as research on the program’s effectiveness,” said Valorie Villela, director of the 30th Street Senior Center. “For us, the academic angle gives us credibility that we wouldn’t have by ourselves. And through us, USF has access to more adults of varying ethnicities and physical abilities for Dr. Thompson’s research.”

Thompson called the Outstanding Collaborative Partner Award presented to ESS and the San Francisco Senior Centers by On Lok an honor. “And I was thrilled that the California legislators thought enough of our program to recognize ESS with certificates of recognition,” Thompson said. “This just affirms that our involvement with the program is worthwhile and that we are making a difference in the lives of older San Franciscans through our efforts.”

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu