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In 2006, the World Health Organization launched the Global Age-friendly Cities project in recognition of the converging trends of urbanization and population aging. The initiative asked 35 cities to lead discussions with their older residents to explore the strengths and challenges of aging in cities. The information gathered through this research, with the help of NYAM, was used to develop a guide for global age-friendly cities.
Beginning in 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and The New York Academy of Medicine launched Age-friendly New York City by doing a comprehensive assessment of the assets and challenges older New Yorkers face. The assessment included guided conversations with more than 1,500 older adults across the city in six languages, roundtable discussions with hundreds of professionals, a literature review, and extensive mapping. In the fall of 2008, NYAM released the findings of the assessment process in Toward an Age-friendly City: A Findings Report.
As a complement to the community assessment, the Office of the Mayor and the New York City Council asked all city agencies to consider how they could improve the way they integrate and serve older adults through their work. Out of this review, in 2009, the City announced 59 initiatives to improve the quality of life of older adults, which are outlined in Age-friendly NYC: Enhancing Our City's Livability for Older New Yorkers. (See video of the announcement here.)
In order to make improvements in the city, a four-year Commission for an Age-friendly New York City was seated with leaders from both the public and private sector in 2010. The Commission has focused its attention primarily in the areas of: Age-friendly Businesses, Age-friendly Schools, Colleges and Universities and Aging Improvement Districts.
The project and its staff has also served as a leader in the global age-friendly cities movement. In July of 2010, the World Health Organization named New York City the first Age-friendly City under its new certification process. Other cities, nationally and internationally, began looking to New York as a model. Several articles in major national newspapers and magazines have spread Age-friendly's message to millions. Leadership from Age-friendly New York City have presented to and advised cities around the world launching similar initiatives.