“We are all aging, all the time, all together.”
That’s the message Marisa Sheldon and Christine Happel from the Age-Friendly Innovation Center at Ohio State University’s College of Social Work want everyone to know. As they lead Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County, Marisa and Christine consider themselves “aspiring older adults,” and are engaging people of all ages in the work to reframe aging.
They have engaged thousands of people and their creativity through a #ButtonUpAgeism campaign to craft buttons with age-positive messages, including older adults, aging services professionals, Age-Friendly Scholars, and local school students. Among them was a middle school student whose inspired button says, "Aging is Rad!" Another button and its slogan have gone viral – "Aging: So Cool Everyone is Doing It!" Brainstormed by Christine, this is the most popular of their buttons. The phrase is making its way onto town squares in age-friendly communities, into the Ohio Statehouse, and across the country.
Christine thinks the popularity is due to the phrase's playfulness and the way it invites everyone to participate. While tackling the numerous “isms” in our society can be heavy, the lightness of this button engages people to share their stories about what is, and at times, what isn’t cool about aging. It creates space to listen and learn from each other.
That's why the National Center to Reframe Aging celebrates this phrase! When more people understand that we are all in this together, and we all journey through aging in our own way, a more nuanced conversation about aging will permeate society. And when we change the way we talk about it, we will change the way we think, and ultimately change the policies that shape our communities. When that happens – everybody wins!
To learn more about Marisa and Christine's work, follow them on social media @AgeFriendlyOH and check out more buttons with #ButtonUpAgeism.