Building Healthy Communities

Wellspring is committed to implementing evidence-based programs, providing effective education, helping to support comprehensive environmental strategies, and promoting the health and wellness of individuals and communities across the lifespan. We believe that effective alcohol and other drug abuse prevention is everyone’s responsibility — adolescents, schools, parents, and communities. That’s why our programs are designed for a variety of audiences and are delivered daily to organizations and groups throughout Middlesex County.

Programs & Information

Description of Program
Senior Jeopardy is an interactive educational program for older adults in a Jeopardy game format, just like the TV show.

Since the misuse and abuse of substances like alcohol and prescription drugs are increasing in adults over the age of 55, there is a need to inform seniors about the risk of these behaviors and unhealthy ways of coping with life’s stressors. Senior Jeopardy is a prevention program that provides important information to participants who team up to answer challenging questions and learn about specific topics through lively discussions that follow each question on the game board. Players are encouraged to discuss sensitive topics as coping with life’s challenges as they age, and their attitudes towards alcohol and other drugs as these topics come up in the game.

Senior Jeopardy currently features six individual one-hour education programs on a range of topics including:

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Substance Use and Abuse by Older Adults
  • Nutrition and Healthy Aging
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Maintaining a Healthy Mind
  • Healthy Coping Skills.

Standard feedback evaluations are used to gauge knowledge learned and see how participants plan to incorporate knowledge learned in the Senior Jeopardy programs into daily life.

Participants of the program report enjoying the game show format, using the information they have learned and sharing it with family, friends and other members of the senior centers they attend. They realized the importance of using one pharmacist and not over over-medicating. They also report being more careful when using and disposing of prescription medication as well as recognizing the danger of mixing their prescription medications with alcohol. The camaraderie that develops between groups as they progress through the game show helps decrease their sense of isolation.

Description of Program
HealthEASE was created in New Jersey to coordinate and expand health promotion and disease prevention services for older adults at the local level, with the goal of promoting, supporting and sustaining older adults in living healthier, more independent lives.

HealthEASE targets older adults at all levels of the health spectrum, from those experiencing no health issues to those with multiple chronic diseases and physical limitations.

The education series includes important information on six health promotion topics including:

  • Nutrition “Serving Up Good Nutrition”
  • Physical activity “Exercise and Getting Fit”
  • Heart disease “Keeping Up The Beat”
  • Memory improvement “Maximizing Memory”
  • Osteoporosis and falls prevention “Bone Up On Your Health”
  • Safe use of medications “Be Wise About Your Medications”.

The modules can be delivered as separate educational programs or as a series of workshops. The goal of each module is to provide education to promote patient empowerment leading to a healthier lifestyle. Each module includes specific actions that can be taken to improve health as related to the session topic. Each session is approximately one and a half hours in length.

Early results indicate participants are willing to make a pledge to make at least one healthy behavior change.

Description of Program
The Wellness Initiative for Senior Education (WISE) program is a wellness and prevention program for older adults, designed to help them celebrate healthy aging, make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid substance abuse. It provides valuable educational services to older adults on topics including nutrition and exercise, medication use, stress management, depression and substance abuse.

Created by the New Jersey Prevention Network (NJPN) and implemented locally by member agencies such as Wellspring, WISE promotes health through education concerning high-risk behaviors in older adults.

The six-lesson curriculum is facilitated by trained prevention specialists once per week over a six-week period. Each lesson is two to three hours in length and includes breakfast or lunch. The content is organized to promote the understanding and value of generational diversity in a format that excites and energizes participants to share what they have learned with family, friends, and peers.

During the lessons, participants are educated without the use of didactic teaching, but rather through interactive exercises that include small group discussion and projects, as this method of learning has been shown to be more effective with adult learners. They are also given tools and resources to take home, increasing the likelihood that what they have learned will be put into practice and shared. Each lesson has demonstrated clear outcomes.

WISE Program participants increased their knowledge regarding how their bodies age, how the aging process affects their ability to metabolize alcohol and medications, and how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of depression.

WISE participants were more likely to improve health behaviors related to lifestyle choices, health care empowerment, and use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Seniors who completed the WISE Program reported greater increases in social support over time.

Description of Program
Parents want to protect their child at all costs. However, sometimes this is challenging. Learning to overcome difficult situations in life—peer pressure, stress, or lack of strong familial relationships—is a two-way street. Youth need skills to help them resist the peer pressure that leads to risky behaviors while parents/caregivers need skills to communicate with youth and be aware of potentially risky behaviors. Research shows that protective parenting improves family relationships and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use.

The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) has made a difference in thousands of families in all 50 states and in over 25 countries.

SFP 10-14 is taught with 8-10 families over seven weeks, usually in the evenings. Each session is approximately 2 ½ hours in length. The first half hour consists of a family dinner. Families are encouraged to sit together and have dinner, an important protective factor for families to have. The goal is to have this translate over into the families’ homes. Parents and youth then meet in separate groups for the first hour and together as families during the second hour to practice skills, play games, and do family projects. Sessions are highly interactive and include role-playing, discussions, learning games, and family projects.

Parent sessions consist of presentations, role-plays, group discussions, and other skill-building activities. Youth sessions engage each youth in small and large group discussions, group skill practice, and social bonding activities. Family sessions use specially designed games and projects to increase family bonding, build positive communication skills, and facilitate learning to solve problems together. It is recommended that the group size be smaller when dealing with families where parents have begun to have concerns over the problematic behavior of their youth.
Four optional booster sessions may be held three to twelve months after the initial program.

This evidence-based curriculum helps parents/caregivers learn nurturing skills that support their children, teaches parents/caregivers how to effectively discipline and guide their youth, gives youth a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers, and teaches youth skills on dealing with stress and peer pressure.

Implementing The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 resulted in youth having significantly lower rates of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use compared to those who did not participate in the program. Youth involved with SFP 10-14 also had fewer conduct problems in school. Parents showed an increase in parenting skills and general child management as well as an increase in positive feelings toward their child. Research also showed that differences between the control group and the experimental group increased over time. For example, the strength of family relationships continued to increase for the experimental group once the program was over as compared to the control group.

Description of Program
The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a workshop, given two and a half hours, once a week for six weeks, in community settings.

People of all ages with different chronic health problems or caregivers of someone with a chronic health problem attend together to learn skills needed for the daily management of disease and to maintain and/or increase life’s activities. Workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders, at least one of whom is a non-health professional with a chronic disease.

This program will not conflict with existing programs or treatments. It is designed to enhance regular treatment and disease-specific education such as cardiac rehabilitation, or diabetes instruction. The program is appropriate for people have one or multiple chronic conditions. Classes are fun, practical and highly participative, where support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active fulfilling lives.

Subjects covered include:

  1. Techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation
  2. Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance
  3. Appropriate use of medication, communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals
  4. Nutrition
  5. How to evaluate new treatments.

Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the companion book, Living Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions.

Research confirms participants increase healthful behaviors, believe their health has improved, are less limited in their daily activities, are less bothered by their illness, and have greater confidence in their ability to manage their condition.

Participants report the following benefits:
• Improvements in physical activity, stamina and pain control
• Better communication with their health care providers
• Reduced doctor and hospital visits