September 21, 2016
WEST CHESTER, PA, — At a ceremony held at Borough Hall, the Borough of West Chester was inducted into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities which recogizes such features as safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. As a member, West Chester will be a part of a growing national movement of livable communities striving to meet the needs of their nearly 19,000 residents.
West Chester’s age-friendly designation is a result of a partnership between the WCU Department of Psychology as well as faculty, administrators, and students from West Chester University, the office of the Mayor of West Chester, the Borough Council, Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, as well as service providers in the West Chester area such as the Senior Center, the Hickman, and the Area Agency on Aging offices. West Chester University completed a comprehensive action plan that includes conducting assessments of Borough services and programs, and exploring components of the Borough which foster or hinder the health and well-being of its aging population.
“We are lucky to have an engaged borough council, a mayor that cares about the community, a strong Business Improvement District, a University that has become a great community partner and, of course, an amazing Chamber of Commerce,” said Mark Yoder (image), President of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce.
“It is crucial for communities to address the needs of a rapidly aging population,” stated Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP PA State President. “Older adults are living longer and not only want to stay in their communities, but want to become more involved in their communities. Livable communities are an investment that will not only improve the lives of their residents today, but prepare us for the growing number of older residents tomorrow.”
Between 2015 and 2025, the number of Pennsylvanians age 65+ is expected to increase by 31.5 percent. In 2015, 16 percent of Pennsylvania’s population was over the age of 65. Pennsylvania is the fourth oldest state in the country.
“West Chester University is pleased to join the Borough of West Chester in an innovative partnership that addresses the well-being and happiness of elders in our community,” stated Christopher Fiorentino, Interim President of West Chester University of Pennsylvania. “As a result of these efforts, the Borough of West Chester has been accepted as a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
“West Chester is proud to have earned the WHO designation as an Age-Friendly Community,” stated Mayor Carolyn Comitta. “We celebrate our diversity, our walkability, our vibrant downtown and our beautiful neighborhoods. West Chester has been named one of the best places in the country to raise a family, to go to school and to retire.”
West Chester will join other US cities in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities which launched in April 2012. The initiative is affiliated with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities become more livable and prepare for a rapidly aging population. The program currently has over 1,000 participating communities in 20 countries around the world, including Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago.
AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns and cities to become great places for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.