The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues once again offers interesting research-based findings from practical and relevant programming for improving the quality of life that people have or wish to attain. The programs published in this issue provide great public value in their contributions to the improvement of the health of communities, families and individuals.
One article focuses on improving the fitness level of older adults. This is a major way to improve the health of these adults while also reducing health care costs at the individual, community, and societal levels. Physical activity provides a number of health benefits for older adults. This article assists Extension educators and other professionals in working with older adults to promote outdoor walking. The public value of this program is its contribution to improving the health and fitness of the older adult community and potentially reducing future health-care costs.
Another article describes the methodology and impacts of a professional development- training program for Extension and other educators who teach nutrition and physical activity to learners who have developmental disabilities. The high prevalence of obesity and other nutritional concerns due to the limitations to functioning associated with disabilities, sometimes coupled with low income and low literacy, puts this population at high risk for chronic diseases. The public value of this program is its contribution to improving the health of these individuals, their families, and their communities and furthering the independence of Americans with developmental disabilities.
Some parents struggle to provide a nurturing environment for their children due to issues or problems including poverty, substance abuse, intergenerational and community violence, and inadequate examples and lack of appropriate training. One paper examines the quantitative and qualitative outcomes of a parent education program designed for parents at high risk for child abuse or neglect. It includes implications for practice including the role of Cooperative Extension agents in delivering a research-based parenting curriculum to highly vulnerable families. The public value of this program is its contribution to the health and wellbeing of the family in terms of family time together, parent-child communication and child behavior.
A definite and powerful contribution to the field of family and consumer sciences was the life and work of Annie Peters Hunter. She was the first federally appointed black home demonstration agent in the country. One article provides an historical study of and insight into her work, community, and family. The public value of her life and work is her dedication to those she served and the contributions she made to the field, her communities and those who followed after her.
In the aftermath of the Great Recession we have been left with financially fragile individuals and families. One article gives an overview of the recent economic trends regarding the recession spanning from December 2007 to June 2009. The article focuses on the changes in home ownership, employment, household debt and wealth. The public value of this program is its contribution to the financial health and wellbeing of the family in terms of the ways that professionals can help economically insecure and fragile individuals and families.
Finally, I encourage you to consider the newest addition to the articles in The Forum, the Practitioner’s Brief. This section will offer authors a place to express and share new ideas and insider’s views of best practices, trends, and emerging issues. Our first Practitioner’s Brief was published in the Winter, 2011 edition. Check it out.
As always, it is my hope that you will read the articles, apply the information to your situation, and enjoy the experience.
Jacquelyn W. McClelland, Ph.D.
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