Farm­ers and friends at Fo­rand

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE -

CEN­TRAL FALLS – The Macarena, that pop dance craze that swept the nation in the mid90s, ex­pe­ri­enced a brief resur­gence yes­ter­day af­ter­noon as se­niors and teens took to the floor at Fo­rand Manor to mark out those fa­mil­iar moves.

Mayor James Diossa even joined in and en­cour­aged se­niors to par­tic­i­pate with res­i­dents cheer­ing on.

The cel­e­bra­tion marked the cul­mi­na­tion of a pi­lot project, known as the In­ter­gen­er­a­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Project, cre­ated by the Local Ini­tia­tive Sup­port Corps to com­bat se­nior iso­la­tion. The three-ses­sion se­ries brought to­gether area teens from Cen­tral Falls High School as well as sum­mer youth staff with se­niors for a pro­gram that uses sto­ry­telling and cul­tural ex­changes to break through bar­ri­ers and help form re­la­tion­ships.

The se­ries fin­ished with a meal us­ing recipes pro­vided by the se­niors and us­ing farmer’s mar­ket pro­duce.

“One of the key things we heard from res­i­dents dur­ing our ini­tial lis­ten­ing tour was about the prob­lems faced by se­niors,” said Jeanne Cola, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of LISC Rhode Is­land. LISC Rhode Is­land is the back­bone agency re­spon­si­ble for the Paw­tucket Cen­tral Falls Health Eq­uity Zone and con­ducted the lis­ten­ing tour as part of that Rhode Is­land Depart­ment of Health pro­gram.

“Pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion and a strong sense of com­mu­nity is an im­por­tant so­cial de­ter­mi­nant of health,” says Cola. “This pro­gram is the re­sult of our ef­forts to ad­dress that is­sue.”

Or­ga­niz­ers saw the suc­cess of an ear­lier Paw­tucket and Cen­tral Falls pro­gram that paired teens with se­niors for snow re­moval and looked for an op­por­tu­nity to build on that idea.

“The se­niors re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the help that win­ter and en­joyed de­vel­op­ing re­la­tion­ships with the teens,” said Cola. “What was a bit sur­pris­ing was that we saw that it was a valu­able re­la­tion­ship to the youth as well. We started look­ing at ways to con­tinue that mo­men­tum.”

Grant fund­ing from the Tufts Health Plan Foun­da­tion al­lowed LISC Rhode Is­land to ex­plore ways to build those re­la­tion­ships. The re­sult­ing for­mat com­bines healthy eat­ing and sto­ry­telling with move­ment and crafts.

The for­mat seems to be one that works.

“We have res­i­dents who typ­i­cally stay in their rooms who are join­ing in,” says Meaghan Levasseur, res­i­dent ser­vice co­or­di­na­tor at the Cen­tral Falls Hous­ing Au­thor­ity. “It’s so nice to see them out and en­joy­ing them­selves.”

The Tufts Health Plan Foun­da­tion agrees. Build­ing com­mu­ni­ties that are re­spon­sive to the needs of older peo­ple is the fo­cus be­hind the Foun­da­tion’s ac­tiv­ity.

“Each com­mu­nity will fol­low its own path to be­com­ing age­and de­men­tia-friendly. Sup­port from Tufts Health Plan Foun­da­tion helps en­sure re­sources reach un­der­rep­re­sented com­mu­ni­ties at great­est risk for dis­par­i­ties,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, pres­i­dent of the foun­da­tion and vice pres­i­dent, cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship for Tufts Health Plan. “Every­one has a voice. It’s im­por­tant that we lis­ten.”

The Tufts Health Plan Foun­da­tion has re­cently an­nounced a two-year grant of $120,000 to LISC to ex­pand the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional pro­gram­ming to four new Health Eq­uity Zone com­mu­ni­ties in Rhode Is­land.

“We are off to New­port next,” says Cola. “We are ex­cited to see what the pro­gram will look like in that com­mu­nity – pos­si­bly we will get them up for the elec­tric slide.”

Sub­mit­ted photo

Cen­tral Falls Mayor James Diossa joins LISC Rhode Is­land staff mem­bers and par­tic­i­pants at the In­ter­gen­er­a­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Project at Fo­rand Manor in Cen­tral Falls.

LISC pro­gram staff mem­bers Pauline Bella­vance and Deana Bruno pre­pare a meal at Fo­rand Manor.

Colom­bian Dancers from Pro­greso Latino per­form at the In­ter­gen­er­a­tional Farm­ers Mar­ket Project at Fo­rand Manor.

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