In Wednesday’s class, Life Course Scholars (LCS) from previous years came to share their thoughts about their Healthy Aging Projects (HAPs). The group that was responsible for the ‘Casa de Manana Dance’ and the ‘West Center Senior Prom’ last school year, gave us tips on what we should do as a class when planning for these two events, which will occur in the beginning of March. Since I signed up to be a member of the Activities Committee, I paid close attention to what LCS have done in the past in regards to activities. Based on what I heard, it is a good idea to set up a photo booth and buy props from the dollar tree to make photo taking fun! Although I’ve never set up a photo booth before, I’m sure that once my group and I come together, this task should not be too difficult. We were also told that it would be a good idea to create a music playlist that contains the big hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and to think about hiring a dance instructor. I honestly think the process of finding music from the past will be very interesting because right now I only know music from the 80s, not so much from the 70s and 60s. Perhaps through this new exposure, I might discover new music that I truly like and can add to my personal playlist. In regards to hiring a dance instructor, I’m not really sure how one can go about doing that. Right now, I only know there are student orgs at UCSD that offer dance classes. Perhaps by asking around, my group and I can find a good dance instructor that will be willing to help us in our dance events. Although it is only week 3, and we’re still in the planning stage, I cannot wait until its March, and we start implementing these events. They sound like a lot of FUN!
At the Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center I met many wonderful people that benefit from the services offered at this non-profit organization. As mentioned before, most elders that receive services at this facility are low-income. In order to satisfy the unmet needs of everyone that visits this site, the organization provides case management services, breakfast and lunch options, exercise sessions, computer lab access, etc. Oftentimes, elders usually come for the food in their first visit, and then discover there are other services that the facility provides.
When I heard that Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center was once a car dealership, I could not believe it! Just imaging that cars used to be sold in this building, and now elders can obtain their dental care services at this location, truly amazes me. Perhaps the main reason I’m so amazed is because in countries that favor consumerism, like the United States, it’s much easier to find for-profit organizations that focus on increasing profits and not on helping the greater good, when it is so clear that residents in the area are struggling to meet their basic needs.
Based on my observation, I think the Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center is doing a great job in meeting these basic needs, especially if you take into account the center’s limited budget. However, if only money were not an issue, I do think it would be nice if the center could expand and create more ample room for everyone. Personally, I felt the hallways, the multipurpose room, and the exercise room were too small to accommodate everyone at the facility. I also thought the food portions were really small. Nonetheless, I’m very grateful that organizations like the Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center exist, because they truly make a positive difference in the mental, physical, and social well-being of most low-income seniors in the area. :)
Overall, the class retreat at the Martin Johnson House in La Jolla was quite an amazing experience. For starters, I was introduced to breakfast pizza! The pizza was delicious and it is something I look forward to eating again in the near future. :) However, if I had to choose my favorite part of the entire retreat experience, it would definitely be the interactive activities. One of the class activities that I found to be most interesting was playing a board game, similar to the LIFE board game, except in this particular board game the impact that certain health determinants have on a person life outcomes was really emphasized. As a public health major, I’m well aware of how this is oftentimes the case in the United States, however, this board game really lays out how certain health determinants can either help a person progress or stagger behind in life, especially when such health determinants are heavily dependent on the person's upbringings (i.e ethnicity, parent’s level of education, birth weight, etc.). I find this to be unfair, since everyone deserves to have an equal chance to strive high and be high achievers in life, regardless of their upbringings.
Another class activity that I found to be really interesting occurred closer to the end of the class retreat, when each of us got a chance to share our thoughts on where we see ourselves at age 80. After this class activity, I discovered that most of us have a lot in common, which is not what I expected.
On Wednesday, Professor Mirle Bussell and Professor Leslie Lewis gave us an overview of the Life Course Scholars Program. In this meeting, they provided us with more information about the Neighborhood Assessment Project (NAP) and the Healthy Aging Project (HAP). Based on my understanding, the NAP is meant to provide students with the tools needed to assess whether a city or neighborhood is age friendly. Before this class, I’ve never paid much attention to these matters, perhaps because such matters have never affected me personally. Hopefully, this project will help me see the world through a different lens, by being more mindful about how local cities/neighborhoods are unfairly built for people with different capabilities.
Like NAP, the HAP is also meant to be a collaborative project. By observing the HAPs from previous academic school years, I can tell a lot of effort was put into each of these projects, and as a result, the turnout has been great. I hope to continue this LCS tradition, by potentially building by own HAP. Since many students in the past have focused on the benefits of nature and the environment, I plan to do the same. However, I do want to add a second component, and that is meditation. Although, I have never practiced meditation, I have heard really good things about it from people I know.
Since meditation is meant to improve one’s mental health, I think it would be great to have a meditation instructor lead a session, in a beautiful scenery (preferably outdoors; near trees and plants). I’m sure elders and college students will both benefit from this session, since it will allow everyone to take a break from anything that is troubling them and simply relax!