Columbus Peer Exchange Provides Opportunity for Age-Friendly Leaders

Sept. 13, 2017

A delegation of Central Ohio community leaders recently traveled to New York City to participate in a peer-exchange with Age-Friendly New York City (NYC).

Central Ohio’s 65+ population is expected to double in the next 35 years. This poses a great opportunity and challenge for the region. As people age and their abilities change, the city will need to provide easy access to services, amenities, and opportunities. The exchange provided an opportunity for leaders in Central Ohio to learn of useful strategies that were implemented as part of the Age-Friendly NYC Strategic Plan of 2010 and how they might relate to our Age-Friendly Columbus efforts.

During the three--day visit, leaders discussed a variety of issues and best practices. For example, members from the Age-Friendly NYC delegation highlighted the innovative collaboration between the Mayor, City Council, and The New York Academy of Medicine. The Mayor’s office appointed a commission comprised of leaders in the business, public, and non-profit sectors, and charged it with making recommendations on how the city might partner with these sectors to leverage resources to enhance Age-Friendly efforts.

"The elected leadership of New York City made age-friendliness and livable communities a priority," Columbus Councilmember Michael Stinziano said. "I am encouraged by the work accomplished by Age-Friendly NYC and look forward to Columbus strengthening efforts to embrace an Age-Friendly society."

Early on in their collaborative effort, The New York Academy of Medicine worked with city department leadership to broaden the city’s scope to include the aging lens. Rather than trying to create new initiatives for each department, they folded aging into existing priorities to strengthen outcomes for each partner.

“This peer exchange highlighted once again the need to work on age-friendly commitments from all levels. Creating a strong housing and transportation infrastructure is as important as having accessible social and support systems in place,” said Katie White, Age-Friendly Columbus Coordinator. “I’m excited to continue our work with older adults in Columbus and ensuring that age-friendliness becomes a core value in the region.”

During neighborhood meetings in New York, older residents expressed their support of the city’s bus system. An increased reliance on the bus system warranted an increase in new benches, in locations chosen by residents, as well as additional covered bus stops. These new benches have led to increased socialization among neighbors, thus strengthening their community.

The Central Ohio delegation consisted of 18 Central Ohio leaders. The group was represented by the following entities:  Columbus City Council, Columbus Department of Development, Columbus Departments of Public Service and Recreation and Parks, The Ohio State University College of Social Work, COTA, The Columbus Foundation, Franklin County Area on Aging, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and AARP Ohio.

Earlier this year, Age-Friendly Columbus released its Findings Report, which serves as a foundation for the Age-Friendly Columbus Action Plan. The action plan, which will be released later this year, will include both site and service-specific action items for Columbus, but also recommendations that are broader, policy-based, and applicable to other communities around the region.

Age-Friendly Columbus is supported and funded by The Osteopathic Heritage Foundation; the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging; the Franklin County Office on Aging; The Columbus Foundation; National Church Residences; and AARP Ohio.

For more information, please contact Katie White at or 614.233.4167.