Eastern Oregon University > Faculty > Addressing the cancer burden

Addressing the cancer burden

EOU’s physical activity & health department receives funding to address cancer burden in Union County

News contact: Laura Hancock | University Advancement | 541-962-3585 or lhancock@eou.edu
Source contact: Kelly Rice | College of Education | 541-962-3413 or krice@eou.edu
students hiking

Outdoor lifestyle activities and cancer prevention education are the focus of EOU’s new grant-funded program for adolescents.

December 7, 2015

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – Studies show the cancer mortality rate to be significantly greater for La Grande residents compared to the state of Oregon as a whole, and Eastern Oregon University has received a new grant to help address the issue.

Faculty in EOU’s physical activity and health department are spearheading a new project, and it is one of the first in Oregon to be funded by a $25,000 grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program.

The rate of cancer deaths in La Grande and Union County is 1,007 per 100,000 deaths, which is higher than the statewide rate of 815 per 100,000 deaths. This is according to a community health need assessment conducted in 2013 by McGladrey, LLP, for Grande Ronde Hospital.

Additionally, the increased cancer mortality in rural communities has been associated with higher rates of cancer risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity. Rural adolescents in the U.S. have been shown to consume less fruit and have 30 percent higher odds of being overweight compared to urban children.

EOU will use the grant funding to implement and evaluate a cancer prevention program for adolescents centered on outdoor lifestyle activities and cancer prevention education in La Grande.

It’s called Get Outside – After School Activity Program (GO – ASAP) and is designed to increase self-confidence and experiences around outdoor activities. In addition to educating and promoting physical activity, the program will also aim to develop positive self-efficacy, social support and autonomy within the participants.

“Our hope is to increase physical activity, utilize local outdoor resources and educate adolescents behaviors associated with cancer risk,” said Kelly Rice, assistant professor of physical activity and health and principal investigator for the grant. “By teaching youth how to engage in an outdoor lifestyle and activities, the odds increase that they will adopt behaviors that will lead to preventing cancer development as they grow into adulthood.”

GO – ASAP will begin January 4 and run through June 10, 2016. The 20-week schedule will have students meeting after school on Mondays and Wednesdays to get outside and be active.

EOU senior capstone students will lead La Grande middle school youth in a number of outdoor activities, including but not limited to biking, hiking, climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing and many other opportunities.

“By exposing non-engaged youth to an outdoor after-school program, we expect to see an increase in positive attitudes and behaviors prohibiting tobacco, alcohol and other drug use,” Rice said. “Furthermore, we expect participants to demonstrate increased levels of physical activity and knowledge of healthy behaviors and cancer prevention.”

The project is a community effort made possible by additional partnerships with La Grande Middle School, La Grande Parks and Recreation Department, Union County Fit Kids Coalition, EOU’s Outdoor Adventure Program, Anthony Lakes Ski Resort, Mountain Works, Center of Human Development and Blue Mountain Outfitters.

For more information contact Rice at 541-962-3413 or krice@eou.edu.