The Community Wellness Advocate program is a cooperative effort of SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Health Promotion and the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus.
The CWA program is modeled after the state's Community Health Aide/Practitioner program that trains village health workers but the CWA program is geared toward disease prevention and health behavior change rather than clinical work. In December 2006, the Alaska Health Education Consortium honored the CWA program with the Barbara Berger Award for excellence in health education and health promotion in Alaska.
The first 1.5-hour audio-conference for the HS125 Instruction to Health Promotion and Public Health course takes place during the week of Sept. 3-7, and the first week of residency in Sitka takes place Sept. 10-14.
All prospective students will need to take part in a pre-course interview with SEARHC Health Educator Lisa Sadleir-Hart (the CWA Program Coordinator) or SEARHC Health Educator Doug Osborne (a CWA Program Instructor).
Space is limited, and registration through UAS usually needs to be completed before Aug. 20 so students get their books in time.
Sadleir-Hart said the program is "geared toward individuals with life experience who are committed or passionate about creating a climate of well-being in their communities."
Since the program is taught using distance delivery, students are able to remain in their home communities except for two trips to Sitka that last one week each. Previous students have come from all over rural Alaska.
The CWA program began in 1998 as a regional program for Southeast Alaska that offered four three-credit classes over one academic year but expanded to a statewide program in 2001.
The program now offers a 30-credit CWA certificate that can be applied to an associate degree in health sciences.
In addition to the 12-credit core CWA program, there also are two specialty tracks for community nutrition and injury prevention that complete the certificate.
Currently under development is a third specialty track focused on health promotion with elders.
"The Community Wellness Advocate training program was the brainchild of Tlingit elder and longtime health promoter Phil Moreno, who passed away last spring," Sadleir-Hart said.
"He had the vision of a community health promoter in every Alaskan community who would work alongside Community Health Aides and Community Family Service Workers, and they would provide services focused on the prevention of disease and promotion of community assets that were health-enhancing."
For more information on the CWA program, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 966-8735, Doug Osborne at 966-8734, or Bob Love of the UAS-Sitka Campus at 747-7777.