Santa Clara has a new commitment to the well-being of its senior residents. Thanks to the efforts of the Senior Advisory Commission (SAC), Santa Clara has been officially recognized as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
“As a member, the City of Santa Clara will be part of a growing global movement of cities and communities that are striving to better meet the needs of their older residents,” wrote WHO Department of Ageing and Life Course Director John Beard in a letter dated June 7 to Mayor Lisa Gillmor.
At the June 27 City Council meeting at the City Hall Council Chambers, the Mayor and Councilmembers publically recognized the SAC members for their achievement, thanking them for their vision and efforts.
The idea of Santa Clara becoming an age-friendly city began about two years ago when Sam Orme joined the SAC, working alongside fellow volunteer commissioners Wanda Buck, Barbara “Bobbi” Estrada, Alma Garcia, Grant McCauley and Nancy Toledo and former commissioners E. Birch and Arlyne Diamond.
“I immediately looked around to improve the life of seniors in Santa Clara,” said Orme. “I went online and looked at different resources and discovered the age-friendly program of the World Health Organization.”
Orme discovered that Santa Clara County had already had been recognized as an age-friendly county. The City of Santa Clara applied for membership in October 2016. Other Bay Area member cities now include Berkeley, Campbell, Fremont, Mill Valley, Milpitas, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose.
“The whole population of the earth is aging, and people are moving to cities,” said Orme.
Orme spoke of the City’s responsibility to make all spaces and places in the City age-friendly and accessible for people of all ages and abilities, not just for older residents. The City-sponsored Senior Health and Wellness Fair, held May 20, was a new outreach to seniors.
“This fair is the beginning of an example of what age-friendly cities can do,” said SAC commissioner Buck. “You don’t have to have it all done to become a member city. You have to be working on things.”
While there is no cost to participate in the WHO program, members are encouraged to share information and achievements. For information, visit www.who.int/ageing/age-friendly- world/en.
Santa Clara residents 50 and older are invited to fill out a senior needs assessment to identify gaps in City services to seniors. July 14 at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline for filling out the form, available at santaclaraca.gov/government/open-city- hall. For information about Santa Clara’s Senior Advisory Commission, visit santaclaraca.gov/government/board-commissions/senior- advisory-commission.
“I am very happy that Santa Clara has joined cities all over the world in formally recognizing the importance of seniors to their communities. This will bring attention to quality of life issues which will benefit all Santa Clarans,” said Orme.