Supporting Places of Aging, Reimagining Community

Supporting Places of Aging, Reimagining Community (SPARC) lab is led by Kendra Heatwole Shank, PhD, OTR/L. Our mission is to develop evidence-based interventions and programs that support meaningful participation and health-related quality of life while aging in place and aging in community. Our vision is to be part of a national reimagining of how communities are shaped and strengthened by demographic changes, where aging is not a liability but rather a resource for the health and well-being of all members of society.

We are a team of researchers, clinicians, students and community partners developing innovative intervention programs that address challenges with community mobility, community navigation, cognitive changes and the built environment. We use a range of intervention research methods and designs, including focus groups, GPS mapping technologies, experimental designs and mixed methods approaches. 

Our research focuses on older adults who are aging in community (non-institutional) settings, who want to prevent change or loss in their life participation patterns and health-related quality of life. Current projects focus on individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), to understand how changes in short term memory and problem-solving ability affect community engagement, and to develop and test interventions for these individuals and their care partners. For more information about our projects and to get updates from SPARC team, see below.

Autumn Stroll

Mapping Community Navigation with MCI (MCN-MCI)

Determining the current status and need for cognitive health promotion programs in Baltimore County.

Learn More about MCN-MCI
People laughing

Aging, Community and Meaningful Engagement (ACME)

Evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention program while aging in place.

Learn More about ACME

Meet our Team!