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Wednesday, July 7, 2010
What does it mean to be an age-friendly city?
A few days ago, London became the first city in Canada to be admitted to the World Health Organization’s global network of age-friendly cities. It felt good to be included with world-class cities like Brussels, Geneva, New York and Portland which were also part of the inaugural launch. But what exactly does it mean to be an age-friendly city?
In order to be accepted to the network, the city had to demonstrate that it had consulted its population of seniors and ascertained their assessments of London according to a checklist prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, the Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer prepared letters to attest to the city’s commitment to establishing independent baseline measures and developing targets for increased age-friendliness where warranted and a plan for achieving those targets over a five year period. Council unanimously endorsed a resolution to do this.
I first became aware of the Age-Friendly Cities initiative when I was asked to bring greetings on behalf of the Mayor at a conference sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Society. This assignment spurred me into researching the work that had been done in 35 cities around the world which resulted in the development of the Age-Friendly Checklist.
The keynote speaker at that conference was none other than Louise Plouffe from the Public Health Agency of Canada who is one of two creators of the WHO initiative. Her presentation was intriguing to me both as a politician and as a sociologist. When the issue arose at a Creative Cities meeting, I volunteered to undertake a local initiative.
I soon learned that I was not the only one interested in this issue. Professionals from UWO, the Alzheimer’s Society, the Dearness Home, London Health Sciences, McCormick’s Retirement Home, Senior’s Centres , the City of London Planning Department and Community Services Department and other members of council as well as members of the general public were anxious to be involved. Our working group certainly benefitted from the work that had been done previously as well as gaining awareness of ongoing initiatives going on in many parts of the city.
Here is an electronic copy of the report. If you would like a hard copy, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org