University of Maine Recognized for Building Healthier Communities for the Aging
(Boston, Mass. – April 14, 2009) – The University of Maine's Center on Aging is one of only two universities across the country that were recognized today by EPA for improving the quality of life of older residents through community planning and strategies that support active aging and smart growth.
Under EPA’s Aging Initiative, the Maine program will receive a grant of $100,000. This grant is awarded as a "2009 Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging: Training and Demonstration" project.
With the grant, the University of Maine's Center on Aging plans to develop a statewide summit for older adults who would like to learn more about smart growth and influence smart growth development activities within their own communities. The Senior Environmental Leadership Corps, the first of its kind in Maine, will provide leadership and civic engagement training with a special focus on environmental stewardship and smart growth planning to older adults.
"We've seen time and time again that working together, we are better able to address and solve environmental issues," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Tapping into the knowledge and experience of our older citizens is a smart way to take advantage of a valuable community resource."
The benefits of building healthy communities for active aging are being realized in communities across the country. By adopting smart growth principles, communities can design places that improve health and quality of life for older adults by increasing opportunities for walking and biking as part of everyday life. At the same time, older adults who choose these healthy options improve the environment be reducing emissions associated with driving.
"This exciting project will enable the training of large numbers of concerned and active older adults throughout Maine to positively influence our future thinking around sustaining the environment and planning responsibly for our personal and collective futures," said Lenard W. Kaye, Director of the UMaine Center on Aging.
EPA's Aging Initiative program spearheads the multi-agency effort, which was developed in partnership with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Council on Aging’s Center for Healthy Aging, the National Blueprint Office and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, through its Active for Life program.