A partnership among UofL's Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging, Fund for the Arts and Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence will support a study to examine how engaging with the arts can benefit health and well-being for seniors and youth.

A new study conducted by the University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging will measure the effects of creative engagement on older adults and youth.

With a grant provided by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and in partnership with the Fund for the Arts, the institute will launch “engAGE Arts” at the Speed Art Museum on UofL’s Belknap campus.

“As the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence continues to work to improve the overall health of our community, we recognize that the arts have a vital role to play in achieving our goals,” said Jeff Polson, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence executive director.

EngAGE Arts will enroll 128 participants in arts experiences, measuring the impact of the programming on the participants’ health and well-being. The study will draw from two populations: older adults, including veterans, and high school-aged youth. They will be recruited from local aging care facilities and veterans’ groups, as well as from Central High School.

“We are dedicated to bringing about a new vision of aging where individuals and society are able to approach aging as an opportunity, not as a disease,” said Anna Faul, PhD, executive director of the institute. “The arts are an untapped resource for promoting health that demand to be explored further.”

Staff from Frazier History Museum, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Kentucky Shakespeare and KMAC Museum (Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft) will lead the participants in arts activities. Project goals include addressing the needs of older adults and youth in the Greater Louisville community through advancing the policy, practice and quality use of the arts as tools for improved health and wellness, raising visibility, understanding and support of the use of the arts in the promotion of health and demonstrating the use of the arts as a tool for health.

Past research has shown that creative engagement has positive effects on general health, age-related cognitive functioning, balance, mental health, use of medications and overall well-being in older adults and on academic and social-emotional development in youth. Additionally, programs focused on connecting youth and older adults in meaningful relationships have been shown to help break down generational stereotypes and create rewarding experiences for both younger and older generations.

“This is new territory for our community with a transformative grant program that partners an arts nonprofit, private foundation and leading university research center to measure the impact of the arts on participants’ health and well-being,” said Kat Abner, Fund for the Arts Impact Officer.

For information about the study, contact the institute at 502-852-5629.