In September 2013, Embracing Aging was selected as one of six communities from across the country to participate in N4A’s (National Association of Area Agencies on Aging) Livable Communities Collaborative. This was a one-year commitment funded by Met-Life Foundation. Participants learned alongside some of the country’s leading experts about strategies and resources to create communities where all ages can thrive.
As a requirement of this collaborative, communities had to recruit a team of older volunteers to develop a program or service that addresses one of the community’s key focus areas. For Embracing Aging, the volunteers focused on addressing ageism. They interviewed their peers to identify the top stereotypes older York Countians experience in their daily lives. The volunteers used this data to create a learning session designed to help people better understand ageism and its impact.
Embracing Aging was ahead of its time in talking about ageism. The other five communities in the collaborative focused on housing or transportation. As a result, Embracing Aging was asked to share remarks at the national press conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by N4A, where N4A released a report about the collaborative’s results. Subsequently, Embracing Aging drew the attention of the national media, including NPR and Forbes. They wanted to know more about our work in reframing the stigma of aging because ageism wasn’t an “ism” often spoke of at the time.
Now, almost ten years later, the topic of dismantling ageism is more commonly discussed because studies have proven the harm and threat ageism has on individuals, older people as a group, and the community. Ageism prevents the forward progress of creating livable communities. National aging organizations have joined together to conduct research on its impact and discuss strategies to combat it.
After the collaborative, Embracing Aging hired an expert to further research the topic. The findings, combined with the original content developed by the group of volunteers, serve as the foundation to Embracing Aging’s Dismantling Ageism learning session that we present today.
Embracing Aging’s work on addressing ageism has earned us inclusion into Old School Info, an online portal of speakers and resources focused on dismantling ageism. The resource is the brainchild of TEDTalk mainstage speaker and internationally acclaimed spokesperson Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. We had the opportunity to meet Ashton several years ago when we awarded a grant to OLLI-York (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) to bring her to York County. As a funder, we were invited to make some opening remarks. Our messaging aligned so well with Ashton’s work, she asked if she could recommend Embracing Aging as a resource. Most recently, Ashton recommended us to the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging. In October, we presented at their 19th Annual William J. Neff, Sr. Symposium on the Prevention of Crimes Against Older Adults.