Age-Friendly program aims to build generational inclusiveness
The 30-step action plan was formally released last Tuesday and will seek to improve accessibility and fight isolation for county’s older generation
By: Neil Strebig
Father Time may be undefeated, but that doesn’t mean Pittsburgh and Allegheny County residents should be afraid to get out and live their lives.
On Tuesday, October, 17 the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh Action Plan was released. The program has been publicly supported by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto. With the aid of over 100 organizations and over 800 participants, Age Friendly Greater Pittsburgh’s three-year initiative will be issuing a 30-step action plan.
“A lot of listening went into this plan,” Age-Friendly project manager, Laura Poskin said in a phone interview. “[The objective] is to raise visibility on the aging process.”
Currently, residents ages 65 and over account for 16.8 percent of Allegheny County’s population and 13.8 percent of the City of Pittsburgh’s, both are above the national average of 13 percent. According to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging (SWPPA) that number may increase by 40 percent over the next two decades for both the City and Allegheny County.
The 30-step plan will have three phases focusing on access, connection and innovation respectively. With each phase, the initiative aims to incorporate more programs that increase accessibility for senior residents, interactive programs between neighbors to help socialize residents from various generations and education programs that will help streamline the entire process. According to Poskin, the goal is to make the city more inclusive and welcoming for people of all ages.
“At some point in our lives we all may experience a disability in our lives whether temporary or permanent,” said 60-year-old Northside resident, Bill McDowell during Tuesday’s announcement.
McDowell was adamant during his speech towards the importance of ensuring that disabled resident don’t have to feel the burden of staying indoors rather than going out because transportation and accessibility are not adequate enough for them to enjoy a routine. McDowell called the dilemma “not right.”
“[Our] hope is it decrease social isolation and loneliness, which we all know is very is detrimental to your health,” said Poskin.
Creating both a social connection and the necessary means of transportation to events for older residents is a vital part of Age-Friendly’s mission.
Recently older residents of Pressley St. High Rise in Historic Deutschtown were asked about something they’d like to do in the community and an overwhelming response was in favor of seeing a performance at the New Hazlett Theater. Transportation was arranged and a number of residents were able to leave their homes and enjoy a showing of “1984” at the theater.
According to Poskin, this was a beginning stage to action plan item #13 “Arts for All” which aims to “provide meaningful ways for the generations to connect and participate in Pittsburgh’s vibrant cultural scene” in both the Northside and Hill district communities.
“Arts for All” is a part of the Connection phase of the plan. The phases and objectives are as followed:
- Access: improvements to pedestrian walkways, transportation, housing and serviceable resources
- Connection: promote wellness and solidarity education and support programs for multiple generations
- Innovation: Develop resources in communities to sustain older generational needs and fight isolation problems often associated with aging
Each phase has 10-action steps that will help promote both the plan and implement the necessary protocols to sustain Age-Friendly’s objective of ensuring Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh is providing quality living for residents of all ages.
Age Friendly’s first action item “The Crossings” kicked off Wednesday, October 17 in Bloomfield. The event aims to promote walkway and traffic safety. Click here to view a video from a “Crossings” event in East Liberty this past July.
Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh Action plan was largely organized and funded by the Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation with additional support from the Claude Worthing Benedum Foundation, Jewish Healthcare Foundation and SWPPA.