By Bruce Sparrow and Navdha Malhotra
This year is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012). The main objectives of EY2012 are to encourage policymakers throughout Europe to create better opportunities for active ageing and strengthen solidarity between generations. To further promote intergenerational solidarity, 29 April is the European day of Solidarity between Generations.
HelpAge launches new campaign
To celebrate the day, HelpAge has launched a new campaign to raise awareness among young people of what it means to be older in Europe and the developing world.
The Make it Ageless campaign aims to highlight older people’s rights, the issues they face, as well as the contributions they make to society. It will encourage young Europeans to petition the European Union (EU) to make its development policy and programmes more age-friendly.
Richard Blewitt, HelpAge CEO said: “Older people in developing countries are a vital part of society. They are often primary care givers and have an incredibly important role to play in the development of these countries.
“We want young people in Europe to show they care about the needs of older people living thousands of miles away by supporting our campaign. We hope Make it Ageless will see the EU be more responsive to the needs of older people in developing countries.”
Young Age Ambassadors become decades older in just one week
Make it Ageless seeks to raise awareness of ageing among young people by challenging them to be Age Ambassadors. (C) HelpAge International
Younger people in Slovenia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands spent one week living with an older person and captured their week of getting old through video diaries and blogs.
To draw attention to the reality of growing older in a developing country, the campaign highlights the differences between stories of the young European Age Ambassadors and 24-year-old Cornel, from Kenya and his experience of living with his 68-year-old grandmother, Mama Teresa.
European youth’s attitudes towards older people
The campaign also surveyed European youth (18-30-years-old) on their attitudes towards growing older.
When asked if the EU should do more for older people in the developing world, 58% said there was too little focus on older people in poor countries. The survey revealed that only 30% of young Europeans expect their quality of life to better in old age.
The findings show that young people are aware of the contributions older people make to their communities and see them as the "most overlooked" of all those living in poverty around the world.
Mainstream attention to ageing
This is a great opportunity to get international and European decision makers interested in older people’s rights. As the world's largest aid donor, the EU needs to better include older people in its development policy and programmes.
We want to bridge the gap between young and old and show that with the right support, older people can play a crucial role in their communities. The right to be heard is timeless. Let’s Make It Ageless!