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Alabama Cooperative Extension System a Ready Partner for 2015

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) currently has a respected presence in the state and will continue to provide research-based education to Alabamians. Our belief is that establishing and maintaining community partnerships will empower community members to make better health and wellness related choices that will enhance their quality of life.

Alabama’s high percentage of uninsured and/or unemployed residents, large minority population, and environmental concerns are external factors that may affect outcomes. The uninsured are less likely to address preventive health concerns. Health disparities are influenced by the level of knowledge, access to healthcare, and the ability to manage overall health and wellness. Chronic disease, health disparities, and healthcare access are major concerns for the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s goal is to reach children as well as parents, caretakers and other adults, including seniors, in rural and urban populations through participation in workshops, targeted PPT programs, enrichment meetings, faith-based organizations, 4-H Club meetings, health fairs, conferences, social networking, media exposure, websites, partnerships, and curricula.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers educational programs to help increase awareness of how one’s actions affect health and wellness. We also want to increase knowledge of the benefits for consuming fruits and vegetables and increase understanding of the value of health across the lifespan and the multiple dimensions of health.

Health disparities focus on identifying, understanding, preventing, diagnosing, and treating health conditions such as diseases, disorders, and other conditions that are unique to, more serious, or more prevalent in subpopulations in socioeconomically disadvantaged (i.e., low education level, live in poverty) and medically underserved, rural, and urban communities.

Educational programs are being offered in the Baldwin and Mobile county areas that will hopefully provide our citizens with the research based information that will help them make informed decisions for their families. The Successful Aging Conference was held in Bay Minette in October 15, 2014 and provided the community with the opportunity to learn about basic estate planning, food safety, home safety, health literacy and financial management strategies. This was the second conference for the Baldwin County area that focused on the Successful Aging Initiative (SAI), a statewide effort of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs. The program is designed to meet the needs of the growing population of Alabama’s senior citizens. Through the SAI, we direct our efforts to address issues that meet the needs of seniors at various stages of life. The Face of Aging is changing each year and seniors have to think, adapt, and succeed during each stage of life.

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

Nine out of 10 adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease and low literacy is linked to higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services (National Center for Education Statistics). In the past five years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations decreased from 94.8 to 80.1 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees. In the last year, the infant mortality rate declined from 9.7 to 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. With all of these facts there are Extension programs that are available to empower citizens to make informed decisions which include Health Rocks, Successful Aging Conferences, A Gift to Your Family, PREP (Promoting Readiness for Employment Possibilities), TMI (Teens Making Impact), Making Money Count, Welcome to the Real World, Home A*Syst, and many more. Contact Amanda Outlaw at 251-654-5934 oroutlaac@aces.edu to schedule a program or for more information about the programs listed. Resources for this article are from Alabama Cooperative Extension System Strategic Program Initiative 2014-2018 Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan.