FSU Hopes to Attract More Students to Gerontology

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For three years, Charles Heazelip has served as an art instructor with Tallahassee's Senior Center. He says his students get real excited to see a few younger faces.

"When the older folks see them come, they are energized by the youth that's here. That has always been a positive thing around here to have some of the younger people helping out," says Heazelip.

FSU's College of Social Work has just received a$73,000 grant from the New York Academy of Medicine, which will be matched by the social work college.

The money will offer stipends to graduate students in social work for geriatric internships.

"More and more, we are seeing a population growth of our seniors, so I would say it is a critical shortage because so many of our seniors will be without trained social workers that could really provide them with support and also with various activities," says Katrina Boone, a field director with FSU's College of Social Work.

Social work experts believe young students are avoiding the senior population for fear that they may not have any thing to offer.

"Using technology as an example, I think that a lot of people think seniors have no interest in technology. They have an enormous interest in technology and are open to learning about it. Younger people can come in and help with those types of things," says Hella Spellman, the assistant director of the Tallahassee Senior Center.

The National Institute of Aging predicts by the year 2010, the U.S. will need 70,000 social workers trained in gerontology.

Some reports say by the year 2030 Florida will be one of the states to have more people over 65 than under 18.

Some experts believe that if a younger person did not grow up around their grandparents or great grandparents they are more prone not to realize all they have in common.