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August 2015 | News

Growing Old in New York

Three Projects Help Aging Adults Live Fuller Lives

ENGAGED SENIORS: Top: The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project worked with seniors to help bring chair yoga for older adults to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Below: A participant in the Aging Mastery Program shares her goals with her classmates.

At age 65, many New Yorkers can look forward to at least another decade of good health. At the same time, they’re often sedentary and lonely. On average, seniors spend less than two hours a day being active or socializing.

This isolation concerned Katherine Park, a widow who set up a fund in The Trust three decades ago to improve seniors’ quality of life. With money from that fund and others, we’re working with government agencies and nonprofits to help seniors stay healthy and happy. Three new examples:

  • The City has 250 senior centers, and almost all need to offer more engaging programs and fresher food. That’s why we’re renewing a grant of $150,000 to the Department for the Aging and its Aging in New York Fund. They’ve joined United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), a nonprofit that’s running a wide range of programs, including one that encourages seniors to lead the way in healthy eating. At five senior centers across the City, they’re mobilizing volunteers and staff to plant community gardens, organize cooking demonstrations, and run a weekly fresh food box program that offers the best of what’s seasonably available.
  • Exercise, financial planning, the right medicines, expressing gratitude—all are key to aging successfully. In other parts of the country, seniors enjoy a 10-class series called the Aging Mastery Program, learning to take manageable steps toward greater well-being. We want New Yorkers to have the same opportunities. We’re investing $100,000 so the National Council on Aging can bring the class to eight locations, from Kingsborough Community College in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to Carter Burden’s Leonard Covello Center in East Harlem. Seniors listen, learn, exercise, and work with peers to earn rewards for reaching goals. “The participants feel accountable to the group,” says Dr. James Firman, Council president and creator of the program. People make lasting changes in their lives, he says, because peer support keeps them going.
  • How do you make a neighborhood more senior-friendly? To explore some ways, we’re giving $40,000 to the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC. With our previous grant, an advisory council of seniors chose priorities in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. With our new grant, it’s working with local businesses to provide programs and discounts for seniors. The group also is advocating for elders’ needs and creating a resource guide to local services, recreation, and classes for seniors. 
HEALTHY FOOD LEADERS: From 2009 to 2014, The New York Community Trust and another foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, supported several nonprofits to encourage seniors to be healthy food ambassadors in poor City neighborhoods. Now we’re expanding this successful concept.

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