Theresa Mitchell and Julie Davis presented a poster on balance intervention using Wii Fit Plus in community dwelling older adults.

Seniors connect with Kinect

Undergrads present research on older adults and 'exer-games'

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12:54 p.m., Dec. 6, 2011--Video games. They’re not just for kids any more. Prof. Beth Orsega-Smith at the University of Delaware has spent the past several years investigating the role of “exer-games” in increasing physical activity among older adults. Her work has provided not only valuable research data but also a rich service learning opportunity for a number of undergraduates in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition.

On Nov. 4, 2011, her four current Service-Learning Scholars shared the results of their summer experiences with attendees at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the American College of Sports Medicine in Harrisburg, Pa.

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In a presentation entitled “Can Older Adults Connect With the Kinect?” Kayleigh Nydick and Emily Berrue shared their work comparing energy expenditure in two virtual bowling games, Wii and Kinect.

“This experience really opened my eyes to the world of research and taught me to never stop asking questions and never stop learning,” said Nydick, a senior from Flemington, N.J. “It has been very rewarding to receive so much positive feedback from the members of the senior center, our professors and our peers. The skills and tools we have received through this process are truly invaluable because of how we can continue to use them in our college and professional careers.”

Berrue, a senior from Belle Mead, N.J., said, “It was interesting to learn about what other students are researching at their respective universities, and it was inspiring to realize the opportunities that are offered to a student wishing to start a career in the field of health sciences.”

A second pair of students, Theresa Mitchell, a senior from Newark, Del., and Julie Davis, a senior in the Honors Program from Natick, Mass., presented a poster on balance intervention using Wii Fit Plus in community dwelling older adults.

“My experience as a Service-Learning Scholar was a highlight of my college career here at UD,” said Davis. “I loved working with the older adult population, and it was truly rewarding to be accepted by the members of Claymore Center. It has opened the door for me to continue to work with seniors in the future. I also developed my research skills and my confidence in being able to transfer the skills to a professional career.”

About the Service-Learning Scholars Program

Service-Learning Scholarships provide highly motivated students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a service-learning or community-based research project for ten weeks in the summer in a setting outside the classroom. 

Scholars work in a Delaware community agency (non-profit, governmental, community-based action research, or service-based corporate activity) and simultaneously pursue academic reflection under the guidance of a UD faculty mentor. 

In this immersion-learning experience, students spend the bulk of their week working in the community and one-quarter of their time in academic reading, discussion, and reflection. 

Article by Diane Kukich

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