"This event gives our aging citizens a chance to engage, to play, to learn, and to better their quality of life. And it's also a LOT of fun!"
One of the most lively events of the year just might surprise you. The Aging Well Expo (AWE) hosted by the Georgia Power Corporate Relations team is a multicultural event for citizens of the community who are 55 and older. This day is packed with opportunities to connect, be inspired, and be empowered through on-site health screenings, art lessons, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, and a vendor fair of products and services available to the senior community in Georgia. 2018 was the event's inaugural year, with more than 700 participants attending. The 2019 event was recently held at Georgia State Stadium and hosted over 1,100 seniors.
AWE is the product of an equally awesome partnership between Georgia Power, City of Atlanta, and AARP Georgia.
“The city of Atlanta is an age-friendly community. We have four states, one territory and 384 communities that are designed as age-friendly, through a nationwide program by the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Livable Communities. My role is to work with the city of Atlanta and Mayor’s Office to maintain its designation. This event helps to address some of the specific livability areas such as social participation; respect and social inclusion; community support and health services, just to name a few. “explains Kay Sibetta, Associate State Director of Community Outreach at AARP Georgia.
This year's event was focused on ensuring that the guests had a good time and came away educated and empowered with information - from financial security to housing. Sponsors and vendors were focused on bringing awareness to the importance of an age-friendly, livable community. "It's also important that as our community leaders and elected officials make policies that impact our lives, that they look at that through the lens of being age-friendly," Kay continues. "Accessibility should be for everyone, and we need to plan to make sure that every citizen has the same opportunities. Aging is inevitable, and it should not be seen as something negative and people who are aging shouldn't be forgotten. Many people don't realize that the largest demographic of entrepreneurs are 50 and older. AARP Georgia is in the business of celebrating that aging is just another chapter in your life."
Jacque Thornton, Population Health Director with National Church Residences and Board Chair of Sage Navigator is another hands-on planner and advocate for AWE. "I was with Leading Age Georgia for 19 years and we offered a lot of one-off events in support of older adults in terms of wellness. What it was missing was the cultural festival experience. Everybody wants to tell you about chronic disease disposition, about getting regular checkups, but no one was talking about the eight dimensions of well-being, or creating an experience around accessing wellness as a whole," Jacque explains.
"When you walk in to the experience, all the joy you see on the faces of the people who are getting the chance to network, to exercise, to learn, to find the resources you've been struggling to find- this is a landing spot where people can get what they need in terms of education and enrichment. When you walk in you don't feel like this is just a party for older people. The energy is contagious and vibrant and the guests feel it," says Charmaine Ward-Millner, Georgia Power Community Relations Director.
"We are so grateful to Georgia Power for stepping up and being our presenting sponsor, and we look forward to doing this again year after year," says Jacque. "Whatever your organization's resource is, that's how we connect, and that's what we're engaged in with the AWE collaborative. We want a better community for everyone. Aging is a verb, not a destination-- so let's remain engaged."