Hamilton is the 600th city to join the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. It is a big achievement for the city, with Hamilton the first New Zealand city to be accepted.
Hamilton has had a long term interest in the voice of older people – in 1993 it established a Council of Elders to provide advice to Hamilton City Council. In 2015, the renamed Advisory Panel on Older People recommended to Council that Hamilton should consider becoming an age-friendly city. The recommendation was accepted, and in 2016 the Hamilton Age-Friendly Steering Group was formed. The Age-friendly Plan incorporated 48 projects which would expand existing activities, or which were new, or should be continued.
In February 2018 the Plan was accepted by the Hamilton City Council, and in May Hamilton was accepted into the WHO network. Since then several new projects are underway including collecting oral histories from older Māori, and improving the physical environment and transport systems to help better serve older people. As well, a two-day event, 50 Plus, I’m Loving It, was held in April at Hamilton Gardens to celebrate older people and to better inform them of the activities and benefits available to them in the city. For more information on the Hamilton age-friendly experience go to www.hamilton.govt.nz/agefriendly
What is an Age Friendly City?
There are a number of boxes that have to be ticked to be classed as an age friendly city which includes:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
- Social participation
- Respect and social inclusion
- Civic participation and employment
- Communication and information
- Community support and health services
In an age-friendly city, policies, services, settings and structures support and enable people to age actively by:
• recognizing the wide range of capacities and resources among older people;
• anticipating and responding flexibly to ageing-related needs and preferences;
• respecting their decisions and lifestyle choices;
• protecting those who are most vulnerable; and
• promoting their inclusion in and contribution to all areas of community life.
Because active ageing is a lifelong process, an age-friendly city is not just “elderly friendly”. Barrier-free buildings and streets enhance the mobility and independence of people with disabilities, young as well as old. Secure neighbourhoods allow children, younger women and older people to venture outside in confidence to participate in physically active leisure and in social activities.
To find out more about age friendly cities, click here