Encore leaders from around the country are bringing the encore perspective to the 2015 WHCOA. This convening occurs only once every decade and has served as a catalyst for the development of aging policy in the United States over the past 50 years.
Five invitation-only regional forums are being held from February through May so that a wide audience can provide ideas and input to inform the official convening in July. In these forums, encore leaders have called for strong national leadership and a new conversation about aging in America that capitalizes on the “longevity dividend” and the encore opportunity it represents.
At the first regional forum in Tampa Bay in February, Bevan Rogel (president and founder of Encore Tampa Bay) and members of her “encore dream team” called on the WHCOA to “shift our thinking about the programs needed to serve our aging population” to look at the potential of aging in America as a solution.
In Phoenix last month, Encore.org CEO and founder Marc Freedman reflected on John F. Kennedy’s challenge to not only add “new years to life” but to also add “new life to those years.” Amy St. Peter from the Maricopa Association of Governments emphasized the need to create “meaningful work for all” and “innovation around engaging older adults.”
And this month in Seattle, during the third forum, Laura Carstensen, Director of the Center on Longevity at Stanford University, described the “tremendous” potential of older adults to serve as a resource for society. Exhorting those present to think big about how to constructively exploit the strengths of experienced adults, she declared, “We have to find a way to tap this resource. I think of them as the cavalry coming over the hill.” Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP CEO and WHCOA sponsor, reinforced the importance of this kind of new thinking, urging that “this is a time to celebrate discovery over decline.”
Seattle encore leaders Pat Dougherty and Laura Saunders from the University of Washington Encore Initiative, Helen Pitts of Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps (a program of JVC Northwest) and Jim McGinley of SVP’s Encore Fellows Program played central roles in drafting a key recommendation that emerged from a breakout session on healthy aging. They called on the WHCOA to support “a paradigm shift from a deficit to an asset model of aging in America, with a strong national statement and leadership on positive aspects of aging in the face of the demographic shifts.” This recommendation was met with resounding applause from the audience during the report-back at the end of the Seattle forum.
There are more healthy older adults alive today than at any time in history, and that number will grow steadily in coming decades. They have a powerful drive for purpose, impact and legacy. There is no better time for encore leaders to ask the White House to lead a shift in the national conversation from aging as a deficit to aging as an asset and to call for innovation and action to mobilize encore talent for the social good. We will continue to work with Encore Network members, AARP and the WHCOA to bring the encore view point to this important conversation. For more on the encore perspective, read “The Longevity Dividend and the Encore Vision.”
If you’re looking for ways to get involved and to engage your followers:
Read about WHCOA emerging ideas in the just-released Healthy Aging Policy Brief and share your comments online.
Sign up for WHCOA updates.
Share your thoughts on WHCOA online.
Join the conversation on Twitter @WHAging, #WHCOA, @EncoreOrg
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