Six innovators in senior fitness received recognition from the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), which honored them in November with the 2004 ICAA Industry Innovators Awards. Five of the six winners were government related.
Arnold Eppel, director, Baltimore County Department of Aging in Towson, MD, won one of the awards for being a “passionate visionary and tireless worker.” Eppel empowers older adults to enhance their health and quality of life through several projects including a CD with information for caregivers of older adults; an annual information and resource exposition for midlife and older adults; and numerous information and resource guides. He also rolled out a new type of senior center in Baltimore County: facilities with fitness centers to help older adults maintain or improve their physical health and function.
The second recipient was Walking the Way to Health-Countryside Agency/British Heart Foundation in Gloucestershire, England. Launched in 2000 by a government agency and a charity, the initiative has led to the development of more than 300 community walking schemes in England. These schemes typically include three core components: places to walk, self-help information and programs of led walks. The initiative also boasts a Web site filled with downloadable tools for the community and professionals (www.whi.org.uk).
TEXERCISE-Texas Department on Aging (now part of the new Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services) in Austin, TX, was the third winner. The intergenerational health and fitness program known as TEXERCISE educates and involves older Texans and their families in physical activity and proper nutrition. With the support of statewide public-private partnerships, TEXERCISE builds and strengthens the capacity of local communities to develop fitness and nutrition activities, thereby promoting health and wellness.
The fourth winner was actually a pair of winners: NIHSeniorHealth-National Institute on Aging and National Library of Medicine, both part of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. The two groups developed the NIHSeniorHealth Web site (www.nihseniorhealth.gov), which is the first Web site developed to accommodate the cognitive and visual needs of adults ages 60 and older. It may also be the world's first "talking" Web site. Specifically, NIHSeniorHealth provides health topics and formats tailored to the way older adults see, process and recall information.
The fifth winner was Active Community Environments Grassroots (ACEs)-Washington State Department of Health in Olympia, WA, for its ACEs, which incorporates the bicycle and pedestrian community design needs of older adults into transportation policy decisions.
The last winner was the Center for Successful Aging-California State University in Fullerton, CA. This organization led by aging experts Jessie Jones and Debra Rose consistently contributed work that advances active aging. Research conducted at the center has furthered the industry's education and led to standards such as the Senior Fitness Test, a battery of functional fitness tests, and FallProof, a fall prevention program. For the last 10 years, the center has researched healthy aging and disability prevention; trained students to conduct health, fitness and rehabilitation programs; offered health/fitness assessments and physical activity programs for older adults; collaborated with community agencies and facilities to provide services that improve the quality of life in later years; and served as advocates for healthy aging.