By Elizabeth Perry
Coraopolis is one of three inaugural neighborhoods to adopt the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh ethos; the Hill District and Clairton are the others.
Age-Friendly Neighborhoods: Coraopolis focuses on making housing and neighborhoods more accessible to people of all ages but also strives for intergenerational connection.
“Our mission is to simply bring this community together by scheduling events that are inclusive and fun for all ages to participate in. We want everyone throughout the greater Pittsburgh area to know that Coraopolis is not only a great place to visit and live, but to also put down roots and grow old,” Coraopolis Mayor Michael Dixon said.
Dixon was approached by the Coraopolis Community Development Corporation to be an ambassador for the program. Dixon said the organization was recently awarded a $20,000 grant to implement programs to benefit its aging population. Each neighborhood, Clairton, Coraopolis and the Hill District, are receiving $10,000 each year for two years, according to Gerontologist and Executive Director of Age-Friendly Pittsburgh, Laura Poskin. The funding comes from Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh which is backed by donations from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Jefferson Regional Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation and Heinz Family Foundation.
According to the U.S. Census, 22% of Coraopolis' residents are already over 65 years old.
With the aging of Baby Boomers, the United States is 10 years away from having a super-aged society. In 2035, older adults over the age of 65 will outnumber children. According to Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, our region in particular will experience a 40% increase in the number of people aged 65 and between 2015-2030, and a 75% increase in people aged 85 and over between 2030-2045.
The Age-Friendly program came out of the need to address the changing demographics in the United States.
Photographer Taylor Bobak, an ambassador with Age-Friendly Coraopolis, got involved because of her friendship with Dixon. The two had volunteered at different service events in and around Coraopolis, and through that connection, the recent Robert Morris University grad was inspired to take part.
“Age-Friendly is focused on building up neighborhoods,” Bobak said.
The goal of the organization is to make neighborhoods more accessible to people who may have trouble getting around. Poskin, used an example in her TED Talk of a sidewalk. By making it smooth enough for someone in a wheelchair to navigate, the pavement was better for everyone who has to walk the same path. In Pittsburgh, the organization has succeeded in working with transit authority bus drivers to accommodate aging passengers, and drawn attention to unsafe crosswalks.
Poskin describes aging as a universal experience that has the capability of bringing people together.
“Our work is about kindness when kindness is at a premium,” Poskin said.
The Coraopolis branch has already begun its outreach to residents. On Jan. 19, the organization held a transportation meeting at Coraopolis Towers, to explain how older residents could utilize Access Service Transportation.
Many may not know the service could be used for recreational events at a low cost if three or more people were being dropped off at the same activity. Many residents of Coraopolis Towers are not engaged with social media, and Bobak said they often miss out on events which are promoted that way.
“Hopefully this will be something to build a bridge,” Bobak said.
Another upcoming event by Age-Friendly Coraopolis is the “Souper Bowl,” at 3 p.m. on Feb. 11 hosted by VFW 402, 412 Mulberry St. Steel City DeMolay Youth Group will be serving soup to guests.
Bobak said the event would include bingo and other games.