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Richard Doty
IU Media Relations

Michael Reece

Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Art event focusing on rural senior health involves IU

An art exhibit focusing on the health of rural seniors will be presented at the Stevens Memorial Museum, 307 E. Market St. in Salem, Ind., on May 9 from 2 to 4 p.m. The event is titled "The Health of Rural Seniors: Advocacy Through Art."

The event is related to a federally-funded pilot program to improve health care education in Washington County that involves the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

"This exhibit will showcase expressions of health through photographs taken by a group of senior citizens from Washington County who participated in our research project," said Michael Reece, a HPER faculty member in applied health science who organized the event. He and Catherine Sherwood-Puzzello of the HPER faculty are co-directors of a three-year evaluation of the Rural Health Outreach Program in Washington County.

Reece said the older residents have spent two weeks taking photographs of things in their lives that affect their health, both positively and negatively. "We want to draw attention to the health care needs of rural seniors in Indiana but also to highlight the things in the lives of rural seniors that facilitate health," explained Reece, who has extensive experience in community health.

The Rural Health Outreach Program is a partnership involving Hoosier Uplands, a nonprofit, community action agency in Southern Indiana; Washington County Memorial Hospital; and the Washington County Health Department.

Goals of the program are to provide primary health care services in the outlying areas of Washington County, to provide transportation to these health care services when needed, and to increase health education, outreach initiatives and dissemination of health information in Washington County.

Reece said the art event is associated with HPER research designed to understand discrepancies between how rural seniors perceive their health needs and the perceptions of their health care providers. "The art show concept is intended to build bridges on multiple levels," Reece said. "Not only can art be a powerful tool of advocacy efforts to improve the health of rural Hoosiers, it also is an innovative way to make the research efforts of the university more accessible to community members."

He said local policy makers, health care providers and others attending the event will be able to talk with the seniors to learn about the unique health issues they face in rural Indiana.

For more details, contact Reece at 812-855-0068 or