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SBCC to Launch Curriculum for Careers Promoting Healthy Aging, Independent Living

The college will be only the second in California to offer SHARP, beginning in the fall

Santa Barbara City College will offer the new Skills for Healthy Aging Resources and Programs (SHARP) skills competency award program this fall.

The program is designed to prepare students for emerging career opportunities promoting healthy aging and independent living in the community. SHARP is the first program of its kind to be offered anywhere in the nation. It has been running this year at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

The 12-unit curriculum can be completed in just one semester with classes scheduled in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate working adults. Geared toward those interested in careers in aging services or the larger health-care industry, the SHARP program will provide the skills and knowledge needed to begin delivering various types of evidence-based health promotion (EBHP) strategies to older adults in a variety of community and health-care settings.

“The goal of the SHARP program is to teach students about healthy aging and to prepare them to go out into the field and relay this important information to the growing number of older adults in need of such services,” said Sheri Shields, SBCC director of the Associate Degree Nursing Program.

The SHARP program was designed in collaboration with SBCC, College of the Canyons, the National Council on Aging and the California Council on Gerontology and is primed at UCLA, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, 12 community organizations and agencies in Santa Barbara have signed up to take SHARP interns so they can begin offering these programs to the older adults they serve.

This fall, SBCC will offer the four-course, 12-unit, SHARP skills competency award program. Students will complete the first two courses in the program — Gerontology101: Introduction to Healthy Aging and Gerontology 102: Health Promotion-Behavior Change Theories and Practices — during the first six weeks of the fall semester.

During the following 10 weeks, students will advance to Gerontology 103: Health Promotion Program Implementation and Gerontology 104: Health Promotion-Field Practicum, which involves 60 hours of fieldwork at a local community service provider and training to be a Healthier Living facilitator.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to pursue employment in the aging services industry in positions that involve planning, administering, evaluating and/or teaching such programs.

According to recent projections, more than 10,000 adults from the baby boomer generation will join the ranks of “older adults” each day until 2029, and older adults will represent about 25 percent of the nation’s population by 2025. It is projected that about six of every 10 people will be managing more than one chronic health condition by the year 2030.

As a result, national evidence-based health promotion programs and services are now being offered to older adults in settings such as senior centers, community centers, hospitals, health clinics and senior housing facilities. Although the program leaders and facilitators responsible for overseeing these programs have recently been required to undergo specific training in order to be certified for such work, a recent Aging Labor Force Study conducted by the California Social Work Education Center found that most public social services employees have no formal training related to aging and older adults.

“The SHARP program was designed to provide those organizations with a qualified set of graduates to form an applicant pool and hire from,” said Dr. Janet Frank, assistant director for Academic Programs, Multicampus Programs in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, UCLA. “However, gerontology is a multidisciplinary field; so the content included in this program will give students a great foundation to pursue many types of work on behalf of older adults in both community agencies and the healthcare industry.”

Students interested in learning more about SBCC’s one-semester SHARP program in the Santa Barbara area can call Sheri Shields at 805.965.0581 x2373.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for Santa Barbara City College.

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