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GIG surprised with award

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 March 28, 2016

During a recent Geriatrics Interest Group event, surprise guest Janine Rogers made a special announcement on behalf of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

“I get the distinct pleasure of recognizing volunteers across the state that support senior service programs and activities,” said Rogers, director of volunteer and community services. “This year we are recognizing young people as part of intergenerational connections” — and they selected GIG.

Rogers gave GIG President David “Chase” West and each executive committee member a certificate and leather daily planner.

“We recognize all of the effort, commitment and dedication you have put into spending time with our elders,” she said. “Thank you for putting a smile on a face. Thank you for providing comfort and friendship. Thank you for helping to bridge the gap between the generations.”

Faculty sponsor Niharika Suchak helped coordinate the surprise.

Last summer, under West’s leadership, GIG started something new.

“We began monthly health screenings for the local retirement community Westminster Gardens,” he said. “Medical student volunteers, along with a physician advisor, visit the community one Saturday per month to perform blood pressure and BMI assessments, osteoporosis risk and nutritional screenings, functional assessments including fall risk, and a review of medications.”

But one traditional annual event in particular makes a special impact.

“During the Intergenerational GIG Picnic in the fall, we invite senior community members from Tallahassee and surrounding areas to socialize with FSU College of Medicine students, faculty members and staff at the FSU Reservation,” said West. “GIG and the Geriatrics Department provide free food, games and prizes. This past year we had over 100 people.

“I still get compliments about how much people enjoyed the interactions they had that day, student and senior alike. These types of events break down stereotypes and allow for genuine interaction that defies age.”

What does GIG have planned next?

West said it’s sponsoring a Wii Bowling Competition between medical students and residents of the Westminster Community.