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JHF Joins New Statewide Coalition to Engage Seniors with Virtual Gaming & Esports

Social isolation and loneliness among older adults are some of the most serious health issues facing our country today. To combat this problem, a new public-private partnership—the K.A.R.E.S. Community (Keystone Athletics, Recreation and Esports)—will use virtual technology to bring Pennsylvania seniors together for Esports and virtual games. The first program of its kind in the U.S., the Community will debut its activities at the next Keystone Games in October 2020 and launch an inaugural virtual Winter Games in 2021.

Historically the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) has always been committed to reducing social isolation, including exploring the application of technology to increase engagement among older adults in Western Pennsylvania. JHF has had success with its Virtual Senior Academy, and now it's joining forces with statewide partners EnableHealth, the PA Esports Coalition, Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute, Athletes for Care, RTI International, the KNGDM Group, the PA Office of Rural Health, and the Keystone State Games to launch the K.A.R.E.S. Community. JHF brings expertise in aging and social connectedness and engagement to the program and will serve as a lead partner in bringing this novel idea to life.

The non-profit Keystone State Games, Inc., founded in 1983, is a statewide public-private partnership that has attracted over 500,000 participants to their multi-sport program. By adding in the K.A.R.E.S. Community to their programming in October, Pennsylvania will become the first statewide senior games to incorporate Esports and virtual games. During a time when in-person games will be restricted and may be highly limited for some older adults, Esports offers an important way to connect seniors across the commonwealth.

"We have always been committed to keeping seniors safe and well," said Mara Leff, Director of Innovation at JHF. "We think Esports is a fantastic outlet to foster this type of connection, and we are thrilled to be partnering to make it a reality."

Read about this new initiative in the Pittsburgh Business Times here. 

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