Summer Shorts 29: Age-Inclusive Communities, a TOY Project.

Picking up from last week’s summary on the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology & the Life Course (AAGE) Conference in June, one of the themes woven through the program was that of exploring possibilities for inter-generational connectivity, which in turn leads to stronger age-inclusive communities. With this focus, there was a presentation by three people from the International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) organization.

Together Old & Young – the TOY Project is a European initiative promoting social engagement between generations, which includes inter-generational learning. As mentioned in previous posts of mine, this idea has long been an area of interest that I would like to see developed more deeply by communities. This TOY position paper should be mandatory reading for any community before they adopt and construct their version of the WHO Age-Friendly Cities initiative.

What is of particular note about the TOY Project is that it makes the case for this concept as a positive solution for a time when cities are more densely populated and culturally diverse, while at the same time as they sate, “we are living in a period of increasing segregation and tensions in our societies”. Add to that the risk of social isolation for older adults segregated (sometimes self-chosen) into retirement or long-term care residences.

TOY, it seems to me, is a no-brainer, a low cost endeavour that is obviously not only an opportunity to close age gaps, but one that must take a concerted effort to structurally position the concept in a collaborative way within a myriad of community institutions – from schools and child day care to older adult community and care facilities. This goes well beyond seeing this as a one-off, feel-good, day trip experience.

Full marks to this initiative.  And – the TOY Project knows how to up sell. It has created community value add with their TOY-PLUS, which offers community organizations MOOC’s and a Quality Stamp of Approval. Nothing like a well-marketed idea.


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