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
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.”