Every year, the EPA recognizes communities and organizations that successfully integrate active aging initiatives and design concepts with smart growth principles to not only reduce air pollution, but also improve health and overall quality of life for residents of all ages. The EPA recently announced the recipients of its 2010 Building Health Communities for Active Aging Awards in the categories of achievement and commitment.
Achievement Award Winners
- City of Charlotte, N.C.—In 2005, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County adopted a comprehensive set of recommendations for improving the built environment to make it friendlier and more accessible to older residents with the aim of helping them maintain their independence and age in place when possible, and in the past five years this policy—the Status of Seniors Initiative—has guided the city's growth and development. The city and its surrounding county have focused efforts on creating walkable communities, increasing density around centers of activity, making senior-friendly improvements to streets and intersections, and integrating transportation and land-use.
- Brazos Valley Council of Governments, Texas—A 2007 Commitment Award winner, BVCOG is a seven-county regional planning association dedicated to integrating smart growth and active aging. BVCOG has continuously worked to incorporate health and well-being into the lives of its residents through a variety of actions on the local level, including creating 10 wellness stations in College Station's Central Park designed with assistance from gerontology, kinesiology, and recreation experts from Penn State University and creating a wheelchair-accessible trail system at Wolf Pen Creek, in addition to a LifeTrail fitness circuit designed for people of all abilities.
Commitment Award Winners
- Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood & Community Services, Va.—Created to serve adults age 55 and up, the Burke/West Springfield Senior Center Without Walls is an innovative, cost-effective public-private partnership that takes advantage of existing facilities throughout Fairfax County to provide community-based, rather than senior center–based, active aging programs. Currently 10 programs serve 170 older residents, helping them increase their physical activity and health. Holding programs, services, and activities at various locations around the county encourages participation and offers the potential for expansion and growth.
- Philadelphia Corp. for Aging, Pa.—Developed by the PCA, Age-Friendly Philadelphia is an integrated research, planning, and policy agenda based on the EPA's Aging Initiative model, to which various private, nonprofit, and government agencies have committed to implementing. The agenda's five target areas include creating a built environment that facilitates safety and social connectedness and establishing an aging network that considers the environment's impact on residents' well-being. Some of the projects to date have included promoting accessory dwelling units in the new zoning code, increasing access to community gardens and urban farms, and developing age-friendly bus shelters.