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The Aging Brain and Health Alliance to Distribute $25,000 Award to Community Churches

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The Aging Brian & Health Alliance at Rutgers University-Newark has been awarded $25,000 from the New Jersey Health Foundation to support a partnership between the university and local churches in promoting Alzheimer’s disease awareness; a reward the alliance plans to redistribute to the community.

The grant will fund a new program that aims to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and risk reduction and increase the participation of African American men to help research the disease. Funds will be distributed to community partners, including direct cash payments to churches and local vendors for catering and support to expand men’s ministries.

“We are pleased to be able to channel 100 percent of the award to community-based vendors and partners, especially our many church partners in Newark, East Orange, and Irvington,” said Mark Gluck, Director of the Aging & Brain Health Alliance.

In coordination with local churches, the alliance will organize and fund Soul Brain! a monthly Saturday morning men’s brain health breakfast, along with Motown/R&B dance parties, sports-oriented brain health events for men, including a classic car show and men’s brain health fair.

The program is designed to help those in the Greater Newark Area and is geared primarily toward churches with a majority African American congregation. The effort is led by Dr. Darlingtina Esiaka, a post-doctoral fellow with the alliance, Reverend Dr. Glenn Wilson, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church of Newark, and alliance director Mark Gluck, a Rutgers-Newark professor of Neuroscience and Public Health.

According to the alliance, African Americans have over twice the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as white Americans, and across all races, men have a significantly higher risk of the disease. Older African American men are at exceptionally high risk for Alzheimer’s. There is a critical unmet need to reach older African American men to increase awareness of the causes and effects of the disease and promote understanding of how risks can be cut in half through changes in behaviors and lifestyles, especially diet, sleep, and physical fitness. The alliance also seeks to address the critical lack of biomedical research data on the risk factors and progression of the disease among African American men.

There are currently 15 churches in Newark, East Orange, and Irvington that have signed up as members of the Aging & Brain Health Alliance, with room in the budget to add another 10 local churches and their respective men’s ministries.

Churches that are interested in joining, should contact both Mark Gluck (gluck@rutgers.edu), Rev Dr. Glenn Wilson, Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church of Newark and our Director of Church Relations Glenn Benjamin (glennbenjamin3@gmail.com), by February 20 to be added to the list of church partners for these men’s brain health programs.

About the Aging Brain & Health Alliance
The Aging & Brain Health Alliance at Rutgers University-Newark fosters interdisciplinary and university-community collaboration to expand the understanding of aging, brain health, and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. It focuses on populations with elevated risk for dementia, especially African Americans, who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease at over twice the rate of the general population.