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

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.

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