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Eleven Going on 70: SCAN Health Plan Helps Fifth Graders Understand Aging Through First-Ever Senior Sensitivity Training for Kids

VAN NUYS, Calif., June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifth graders at Gault Street Elementary School in Van Nuys today experienced firsthand some of the challenges that come with aging. Through an innovative Senior Sensitivity Program sponsored by the not-for-profit SCAN Health Plan, the students participated in a series of hands-on exercises intended to demonstrate the physical challenges facing seniors; and through the magic of special-effects movie make-up, one of their own classmates was aged nearly 60 years in just two hours.


SCAN's groundbreaking sensitivity program is designed to educate a younger generation of Americans about the diverse needs of older adults and to nurture an understanding, appreciation and compassion for the seniors in their lives. The program at Gault Street Elementary is the first of what SCAN hopes will become an educational program for children throughout Southern California.

SCAN facilitator Judy Velarde led the children in a host of creative exercises to mimic the challenges facing seniors. Foot ailments were simulated with popcorn placed in their shoes, hearing loss through distorted recordings, vision changes through special glasses fitted with blurred lenses, and loss of dexterity with special gloves that limit mobility in their hands and fingers.

In addition to the interactive exercises that helped the students physically relate to aging, they also witnessed the visual transformation of one of their classmates. With the help of Hollywood special-effects make-up artist Larry Bones of Bone Yard Effects -- whose film credits include "Dr. Doolittle 2" and "Shallow Hal" -- student Hannah Beloff was the subject of a stunning transformation from an 11-year-old to a 70-year-old senior citizen.

"The transformation was a real eye-opener for the students and a great way to demonstrate that you really can't judge a book by its cover," said Brad Albion, principal of Gault Street School. "We are grateful to SCAN for bringing this exciting program to the students at Gault. It's important that people of all ages begin to better understand the aging process and recognize that growing older is just another part of life's experience."

SCAN has been providing an expanded version of this Senior Sensitivity Training to its employees for many years to ensure they better understand the needs and mindset of health plan members. The program has also been offered to SCAN board members and a number of physician groups. This is the first time the program was modified for a younger audience.

"With our society rapidly aging, this type of education is more important than ever," said Sherry Stanislaw, senior vice president of SCAN, one of Southern California's fastest-growing health plans for seniors and others on Medicare. "As a health plan focused on the unique needs of seniors, we are providing this program so that the younger generation can better relate to their older family members and other seniors in their community."

For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of people with Medicare. SCAN currently serves more than 105,000 members in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Kern counties. In Arizona, SCAN offers a health plan for Medicare and Medicaid-eligible individuals and also provides long-term care services to individuals enrolled in the state's long-term care system in Maricopa County. Further information may be obtained at

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