George Mason University
George Mason University Social Work Department recently sponsored a Black History month celebration that focused on the contributions
of Black Social Work pioneers during the civil rights era. This program was co-sponsored by Hartford Gero-rich grant, Council
on Social Work Education, NASW Metro Chapter and NASW Virginia Chapter.
The program was designed by Dr Molly Davis, Associate Professor and Project Director for the Gero-rich grant to achieve
several objectives. The focus of the Hartford Gerorich grant at George Mason University centers on increasing intergenerational
opportunities for students and faculty. The panel for this event were specifically identified because of their pioneering
contributions to the social work profession, but also their ability to discuss personal experiences of having lived and worked
during the civil rights era. Panelists were Dr. Lawrence Gary, Howard University, Dr. Robenia Gary, Bowie State University,
Mr. James Evans, Evans Associates, and Ms. Shelia Coates, Black Women United for Action. The panel moderator and Keynote
speaker was Professor Mildred Joyner, West Chester University.
The project was a part of a continuing strategy to expose students and faculty to the positive impact of intergenerational
dialogue and interaction. The program demonstrated the positive impact of such programming on understanding fundamental tenets
of social justice as a cardinal value in social work.
Eli De Hope
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
The awarding of the Geriatric Enrichment in Social Work Education grant sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation allowed
West Chester University of Pennsylvania to create opportunities to infuse geriatric content into the undergraduate social
work curriculum. One of the ways that this was accomplished was to create a means for students to directly connect with elders
in the community. Early on in the social work student's educational career, they are asked to interview an older adult about
their life. Through a series of three interviews with an elder, students create a biographical timeline of the older adult's
life that is compared with historical events that occurred during their lifetime; a medical timeline that the older adult
can use at doctor's visits; and social service resources from the community that the elder may need. For the beginning student,
these interviews provide an opportunity to practice basic social work interviewing skills. In the fourth year of undergraduate
social work education, students again are provided a chance to interact with elders during mock video-taped interviews. These
interviews allow students to practice more advanced social work interviewing and assessment skills with older adults. In
other classes, older adults are guest speakers, sharing their experiences and thoughts on a diversity of topics.
Connecting students with older adults throughout their education at West Chester has created change in student's attitudes
toward aging. Students report positive experiences with the elders that they interact with and many now say that they would
consider working with older adults after graduation. This experience of connections between the older adult and the student
is being formalized at West Chester University into the BEST Club, Bringing Students and Elders Together. It is hoped that
this club will allow sustained intergenerational connections throughout the student's educational experience.
Marlene Huff and Surjit Dhooper
Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky
Ed.: Drs. Huff and Dhooper prepared an article using Hartford funds. Here is a portion of that article:
How can we better prepare social workers to work effectively with women who have disabilities?
One of the major reasons for the dissatisfaction among aging disabled women with community-based services lies in social
service providers' inability to understand and identify their priorities. It is evident that social workers must develop
a better understanding of the phenomenon of aging with a disability. The following are a few helpful suggestions:
. Social workers should consider becoming experts on the effects of 'post-syndromes' associated with each disability category
(such as spinal cord injury, polio and cerebral palsy).
. Social workers can become pioneers, along with aging women who have disabilities, in understanding the effects of aging
upon the life course. To date, researchers have not examined the interface between aging, gender, the life course and disability.
. In identifying priorities for independence, social workers should focus on changes in function that are important to
disabled women themselves, rather than using the traditional medical model approach that depends on a predefined health status.
For many women with disabilities, function is more important than "cure".
Aging women with disabilities are a group of individuals that have been underserved by social workers. Increasing our
understanding and social work skill level in serving this population, though, can provide us with the opportunity to be among
the first professionals that understand the effects of aging, gender, and disability across the life course.