Community leaders in West Virginia’s largest city have officially taken the first steps toward joining AARP’s Network of Age Friendly Communities. Earlier this month, Charleston (WV) City Council approved a resolution in support of joining the U.S. affiliate of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program, becoming the first West Virginia municipality or county to do so.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities helps participating communities become great places for all ages by adopting such features as safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.
Well-designed, livable communities promote health and sustain economic growth, and they make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages.
"The goal of AARP's national focus on supporting the development and growth of livable communities is to spread public awareness of the necessity and desirability of towns and cities to become friendlier to all ages as the country’s population continues its rapid demographic aging," said Gaylene Miller, AARP West Virginia State Director.
Launched in 2006, the WHO Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program is an international effort to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization. The program has participating communities in more than 20 nations, as well as 10 affiliates representing more than 1,000 communities.
In the U.S., 127 communities (and counting) representing more than 60 million people are enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. (Check out The Member List.)
By joining the AARP Network, the City of Charleston has declared its intent to move forward with application for the WHO status of “age friendly,” committing to a continual cycle of improvement in the eight domains identified as influencing the health and quality of life of older adults:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings—accessibility to and availability of safe recreational facilities.
- Transportation—safe and affordable modes of private and public transportation.
- Housing—wide range of housing options for older residents; aging in place; and other home modification programs.
- Social participation—access to leisure and cultural activities; opportunities for older residents to participate in social and civic engagement with their peers and younger people.
- Respect and social inclusion—programs to support and promote ethnic and cultural diversity, along with programs to encourage multigenerational interaction and dialogue.
- Civic participation and employment—promotion of paid work and volunteer activities for older residents and opportunities to engage in formulation of policies relevant to their lives.
- Communication and information—promotion of and access to the use of technology to keep older residents connected to their community and friends and family, both near and far.
- Community support and health services—access to home care services, clinics, and programs to promote wellness and active aging.
For more information on AARP's livable communities work, and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, visit www.aarp.org/livable-communities/
AARP WV Media Contact: Tom Hunter, 304.340.4605, firstname.lastname@example.org