Paris, London, New York city, and now, Thorold, have joined the ranks of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
Dominic Ventresca, Niagara Age-Friendly Co-Chair, made the announcement at the Thorold Seniors Centre yesterday during Senior of the Year celebrations.
With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO representative Alana Officer recently sent a letter welcoming the city of Thorold to the “growing global movement of communities, cities and other sub-national levels of government that are striving to better meet the needs of their older residents. By joining the Network, the City of Thorold commits to sharing and promoting the values and principles central to the WHO Age-friendly approach, implementing the steps to create age-friendly local environments, and actively participating in the Network including the sharing of experiences with other members,” she stated.
According to Ventresca, “Our goal since 2009 is to raise awareness about what age-friendly is all about, and encourage local action. Thorold has been a role model in terms of municipalities across Niagara, and moving forward so quickly since it launched its (age-friendly) committee in 2015.”
He listed the group’s accomplishments since then, which include hosting former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion as guest speaker of an age-friendly event at Amici’s Banquet & Conference Centre in Thorold, as well as various information fairs and forums on topics like affordable housing.
The Thorold committee has also helped by making “recommendations to city council and working with the business community. These successes happen because there are elected champions like Mayor Terry Ugulini,” Ventresca noted, along with Coun. Fred Neale, city clerk Donna Delvecchio, and Jean D’Amelio Swyer, who has actively chaired the committee since its inception.
Joining the WHO network, he continued, makes Thorold one of 847 cities worldwide whose age-friendly champions are working diligently “to make great places to live and grow old in, and promote active, healthy lives.”
An age-friendly city strives to include all ages of its citizens when considering housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, community support and health services, communication and information, social participation, respect and social inclusion, and civic participation and employment.
“Coun. Neale was the real driving force to form an age-friendly committee in our city,” said Ugulini, “and I can’t say enough about the work that Dominic and Doug Rapelje gave us, and we kept surprising him with how fast we moved forward. And Jean doesn’t sit down for two seconds. Donna was instrumental, and deputy clerk Joanne Goulet” in the group as well, the mayor added.
“This committee has been very active. It’s crucial in Thorold. We really have older people in the forefront, and we will continue to work hard.”
On behalf of the city, Ugulini presented a certificate to D’Amelio Swyer and the entire Age-Friendly committee, thanking them for “becoming a member of the WHO global network in support of our community and its residents, making Thorold an exceptional place to live.”
Rounding out the volunteer committee are Beverly Smith, Jean Sic, Leslie Daniels, Mimi Peachey, Dan Pelletier, Coun. John Kenny and Coun. Fred Neale.