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The mission of the UNC Partnerships in Aging Program (PiAP) is to facilitate vibrant University-Community collaboration, academic exploration, and creative solution-building to cultivate age-embracing people and communities. Toward those ends, we offer a new conversation born out of the chaotic context of 2020, housed here on our website and extending into spaces where people of all ages interested in the experiences of growing older in our society come together.

Welcome to wAGING change.

Why wAGING change? PiAP embraces the work of challenging stereotypes that frame aging as only an experience of diminishment and loss. We seek to include narratives of continued development across the life span, reframe assumptions about decline to allow for the realization of growth, and engage people of all ages in discussing the entire spectrum of life. There is no denying that an accumulation of years of life will involve loss, pain, grief, and change. Positioning these experiences as synonymous with aging, however, fails to recognize the potential, the joys, and the contributions of older adults. We are wAGING change on the persistence of the prevailing negative stereotypes about aging.

We invite you to visit this space throughout each month of the year here on our website and through various other social media connections. We will kickstart a conversation early each month that seeks to introduce new options – changes if you will – in the way we consider life experiences typically associated with aging. Following the initial introduction of the topic for the month, we will shine a spotlight on a community partner who is doing related work, and invite you to learn more about them. In week three of each month, we will highlight an example of research conducted in our own backdoor and across the globe with relevance to our topic and offer some ideas about the application of this scientific contribution to our everyday lives. Finally, we wrap up each month’s conversation by linking to a first-person narrative that offers a different, and often more intimate, view.

Since we are beginning in late October 2020, we offer this introduction followed next week by a spotlight on one of our most enduring partners: the Orange County Department on Aging. We highlight their Master Aging Plan as an exemplar of wAGING change. Looking ahead to the month of November, we will honor National Family Caregiver Month by exploring giving and receiving care among human beings, and highlight some innovative work being done in the Northside neighborhood to care for elders aging in community.

And so, we begin. In the chaotic, mid-pandemic world that is the year 2020, we invite you to join us in a deliberate undertaking to explore, understand, discuss, and celebrate older adulthood in new ways. In doing so, we hope to create an intentional network of readers, contributors, and communicators who will join us in wAGING change!

2020 Womack, J.L. Professor: UNC-CH Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences

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