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Award Winners – EPA’s Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging

2011 February 7

By Kathy Sykes

The invitation read “boomers are re-defining retirement. They want to spend less time in their cars…” As I was walking to this sustainable communities meeting in Atlanta, I was struck hard from behind.  In car vernacular, rear-ended.  I then realized I was on the hood of a car and then on the pavement. Fortunately, I suffered no serious injuries. The irony: I was there for a meeting on walkable communities. Working for the U.S. EPA Aging Initiative, we encourage towns and cities to make sure sidewalks are present; ensure all persons have adequate time to cross the street; and have engineers reduce the risks to Davids (we pedestrians) from Goliaths (cars of any size). Most of us are pedestrians; other times we are drivers. We can all benefit by designing crosswalks that give pedestrians the right of way and remind drivers to share the road.

EPA today announced it is presenting four communities with 2010 Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging awards for excellence in sustainable planning and age-friendly design. There are two award categories: “commitment” and, as the name suggests, the top award is for “achievement.” The Commitment Award is for communities that have conducted planning work to make their communities age-friendly and sustainable. The Achievement Award is presented to communities that have successfully demonstrated excellence in building healthy communities for active aging.

This year’s Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging, (BHCAA) Achievement Awards were bestowed to the City of Charlotte, NC, and the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. The Commitment Awards were awarded to the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhoods and Community Services and the Philadelphia Corporation on Aging.

Is your community preparing for the growing elder population? Are you living in a city, town or region that you think is worthy of an award? What are the unique aspects of the built environment in your community that enable and support great programs for an active life style?

Bio: Kathy Sykes began working for the U.S. EPA in 1998. Since 2002, she has served as the Senior Advisor for the Aging Initiative. She strives to raise awareness among public health and aging professionals about environmental health hazards, smart growth and opportunities for elders to become involved in environmental stewardship.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lina-EPA permalink*
    February 7, 2011

    Kathy,
    Glad to see you blogging, finally. Kudos for your work on the Aging Initiative.
    Lina

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    February 7, 2011

    How are The Humans Increasingly The Growing Older, Here ???

    There are age difference between East and West civilization on the future. The East shorter than The West, although we have much medicine and the other techniques. Main factor is their cultures who won’t appreciate to the oldest, because the young men are thinking The Oldest are overload. Sadden! Kathy…., your article is remembering me to our Older people who weakness without attentions…. I have cried! However, They are much skills but the young men to change its by new ideas which they like. Just like and dislike without continuous progress…..

  3. Linda permalink
    February 7, 2011

    I’d like to add a comment about making crosswalks (and thus neighborhoods) more walkable — when setting the timer, please remember that not everyone is a power walker! My own town is not at all pedestrian-friendly — it’s too spread out and most businesses are located on high-speed roads — but I often travel to large cities and I walk when it’spossible. A pet peeve is crossing signals that are set only for the fleetest of foot. Mobile, Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia are all places where I’ve nearly been flattened by impatient drivers because the signals don’t allow enough time for those who can’t move at a run to make it across the roads. Please, when “walkability” designs are considered, remember it’s not only seniors that need more time; a parent herding small kids or an individual with a mobility impairment may need a little extra time, too. If those crossings are near a hospital, that need is paramount!

  4. Kathy Sykes permalink
    February 7, 2011

    Linda, You make an excellent point about the time needed to get across the street. You are absolutely correct that in many communities that have a light signal for walkers does not provide adequate time to cross the street. You are correct that the timer for crossing needds to meet the needs of persons with disabiltiies, a parent or grandparent walking with a toddler, persons temporaily injured and on crutches or recovering form a surgery. We all need adequate timwe to cross the road safely and alert drivers of those who are not able to rush across the street.

  5. Kathy Sykes permalink
    February 7, 2011

    You make an important point about lifespan and the value of our elder residents. Lifespan varies by country, race and sex.

    The Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics’s most recent publication, Older Americans 2010, has a chart and data on the average life expectancy for a number of countries. At age 65, in 2005, Americans on average had a lfe expectancy of almost 17 more years. In the Russian Federation in 2005 the average life expectancy was 11 years.

    Life expectancy in the U.S. varties by race too, with whites at birth living 5 years longer than black people. You can see more data at http://www.agingstats.gov

    The older population is a diverse one. Some elders have greater needs becasue of exposures in the workplace, in the neighborhoods where they have lived. In some cultures elders are revered and repected. Unfortunately that is not the case everywhere.

  6. Lisa Vo permalink
    February 15, 2011

    why this “Please, when “walkability” designs are considered, remember it’s not only seniors that need more time; a parent herding small kids or an individual with a mobility impairment may need a little extra time, too. If those crossings are near a hospital, that need is paramount!” ???

  7. Siverek permalink
    February 26, 2011

    Thank you article and for sharing!

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