First Advisor

Raina Croff

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Studies: Community Health Education and University Honors


Health Studies


Afrocentrism -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Exercise -- Physiological aspects, Older African Americans -- Health and hygiene, Mental health, Dementia -- Prevention, Alzheimer's disease -- Prevention, Dementia -- Exercise therapy, Alzheimer's disease -- Exercise therapy, African American neighborhoods -- Oregon -- Portland, Exercise for older people




African Americans are disproportionately more likely than older whites to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias (ADOD). Despite these disparities, there is difficulty in motivating African Americans to engage in activities suitable to maintaining cognitive health (walking, social engagement, physical activity). The Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery (SHARP) walking program (Croff, PI) combines these proactive activities in a culturally relevant way to create a motivational force to preserve cognitive health. SHARP engaged 19 African Americans aged 55 and older on 72 themed, 1-mile walks over 6 months in Portland, Oregon’s historically Black neighborhoods. This study examines participant responses to the SHARP walk "Afrocentrism" to illustrate how culture can be used to motivate walking and social engagement among older African Americans.

The "Afrocentrism" walk presents three questions with historic neighborhood images, each approximately 10 minutes apart along the route:

  1. What are your memories of Afrocentric art? What did it mean to you and your community?
  2. Did you, your friends or family show your Afrocentrism in the 1960's, 70's and 80's? How? What did it mean to you?
  3. Do you have any memories about this [African clothing] shop? How were expressions of Afrocentrism accepted in the 1960's and 70's in Portland?

Participant narratives were audio recorded. Narratives were then coded for common themes that gave insight to the importance of culture in health programming.

Specific conversations amongst walking groups varied around the "Afrocentrism" prompts, however, walking groups reminisced over the same prominent people and places in the community. The commonality of participants shared neighborhood experiences creates a collective historical narrative and allows for connection to one another in ways that support connection to the neighborhood and to African American culture. This collective narrative informs researchers and allows for a deeper understanding of the Black experience, thus further facilitating the incorporation of culturally relevant prompts into the program. This is an essential way SHARP motivates participants to exercise and engage socially. Incorporating culture into health programs, as SHARP does, can be transferable to other health promotion programs to sustain retention and engagement.


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