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The Get Outside – After School Activity Program is continuing in La Grande and expanding to Baker City with funding from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program.
LA GRANDE, Ore. January 11, 2017 – Efforts to address risk behaviors and improve overall health for cancer prevention are often targeted at adult populations, where cancer risk factors and behaviors are likely to have already taken root.
But mounting evidence suggests there is a need for prevention programs at a younger age, too, as adolescence is a critical time for the adoption of behaviors that increase cancer risk. Adolescents appear to have an increased likelihood to adopt these behaviors, including smoking and inactivity, during unsupervised after-school hours.
Several studies suggest that providing youth with non-competitive outdoor activities and helping them form healthy exercise habits can positively impact their long-term health and risk for cancer. New evidence has also linked leisure-time physical activity with lower risks for 26 types of cancers.
That’s where a local initiative called the Get Outside – After School Activity Program (GO – ASAP) comes into play.
Kelly Rice, assistant professor of physical activity and health
“It is imperative to initiate lifestyle activities during adolescence,” said Kelly Rice, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical activity and health at Eastern Oregon University.
Rice is the principle investigator for the grant-funded project launched in 2016 as a pilot in the La Grande Middle School with $25,000 awarded from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program.
The first year proved a success and now EOU’s physical activity and health department has received an additional $50,000 from OHSU to expand GO – ASAP to Baker County and continue the program in La Grande.
In addition to educating and promoting physical activity, the project aims to foster and develop positive self-efficacy, social support and autonomy within the participants. Results were evaluated at the end of the 20-week pilot.
“We measured changes in physical activity, behaviors and knowledge regarding healthy behaviors and cancer prevention and found increases in cancer prevention knowledge, as well as increases in physical activity and decreases in sedentary behavior,” Rice explained.
Submitted photo / Kelly Rice, left, rock climbing with students at High Valley. Snowshoeing, hiking, biking, climbing and backpacking are just a few of the activities organized through GO – ASAP to help area youth get outside and be active.
Students who participated also indicated the program had a positive effect on their confidence and self-esteem, and would have a positive effect on their life-long commitment to fitness.
“The results demonstrate that GO-ASAP is a success story that can be expanded to other Oregon middle school students who do not participate in after-school programs or sports,” Rice added.
Ultimately, Rice hopes to see a reduction in cancer risk behaviors in rural adolescents in La Grande and Baker City – and eventually – all of Northeastern Oregon.
“Introducing youth and teaching them how to engage in lifestyle outdoor activities can aid in preventing cancer development as they grow into adulthood,” Rice said. “We are also seeing an increase in positive attitudes and behaviors regarding anti-tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.”
Senior capstone students from EOU will lead youth from La Grande Middle School on Mondays and Wednesdays and teachers will lead students at Baker Middle School on Fridays. Snowshoeing, hiking, biking, climbing and backpacking are just a few of the activities being organized to help students get outside and be active.
In addition to the grant, GO – ASAP is also made possible through collaborations with La Grande and Baker middle schools, La Grande Parks and Recreation, Union County Fit Kids Coalition, EOU’s Outdoor Adventure Program, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, Mountain Works and Blue Mountain Outfitters.
The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program is designed to build sustainable collaborations with Oregon communities by providing grants and other resources to foster development of community‐identified cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment and survivorship projects. The institute has made a decade‐long commitment to invest in this program to develop robust, sustainable programs that benefit the health of all Oregonians. Additional information about the program is available on the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s website.
GO – ASAP begins January 11 and continues through June 10. For more information contact Rice at 541-962-3413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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