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Maui Now : 58-Year-Long Study Follows Up with BHS Students from Classes ’60-’63

In 1960, the American Institutes for Research surveyed students from Baldwin High School and 400,000 other American teenagers in a study called Project Talent to “represent the diversity of the American high school experience.”

Now, 58 years since the original study was launched, AIR will be following up with these original participants to see how their lives have unfolded over the past five decades. The new follow-up study will also focus on memory and mental health to develop evidence-based policies that will help combat the looming Alzheimer’s crisis.

The AIR said that the original study showed a snapshot of a generation coming of age on the cusp of a new era. It was the most comprehensive study of American high school students ever conducted because it included students from different backgrounds, race, and ethnic groups, according to AIR. Throughout the years, AIR conducted follow-up studies to collect information on particiapantsʻ occupations, families, education, and health.

The study was originally developed by AIR and funded by the United States Office of Education. The new Alzheimer’s study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH predicted that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will more than triple, reaching 16 million by 2025. They also reported that the cost of caring for Alzheimerʻs will exceed $1 trillion annually.

The new study aims to analyze the experiences of Project Talent participants who identify as a racial or ethnic mi­nority. Researchers are hoping to gain a better understanding of the health disparities between minority and non-minority groups from the study. They will also examine the long-term effects of attending racially segregated versus integrated schools.

“These findings will be important in informing current health policy,” Project Talent’s Director Susan Lapham said. “Segregation in schools has been increasing in recent years but we know little about the potential long-term impact on health in later life.”

The AIR said that the goal of the original project was to identify the strengths and interests of America’s young people to ensure that they were being guided into careers that fit their talents. “It helps us understand how experiences, environments, genetics, and behaviors combine to make us who we are and influence how we age,” AIR said.

Project Talent is the only large-scale, national study that tracks participants from their teenage to retirement years.

“The Project Talent generation has contributed to important research in the past five decades,” Lapham said. “Now, they have the opportunity to help us address some of the most pressing public health concerns currently facing our country.”

AIR said that the new study will be just as diverse as the original one. They are encouraging members of Baldwin High Schoolʻs classes of 1960-1963 to participate in the new study and share their experiences with researchers.

Participants can contact Project Talent at 1-866-770-6977 or send an email to projecttalentstudy@air.org

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