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Dennis Streets facilitates dialogue at the UNC Collaboration for Aging event on November 30, 2023.More than 30 faculty, staff, and students from across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gathered on November 30 for the first UNC Collaboration for Aging event. The dialogue explored avenues for collaboration to connect those engaged in aging-related research, education, and community engagement initiatives across campus.

The event was sponsored by the UNC Partnerships in Aging Program (PiAP), an initiative of the Provost’s office.

“We were interested in amplifying the university’s commitment to older adults and age friendly communities—both locally and across our state—while also rooting those efforts in collaboration and partnership,” said PiAP Director Dr. Ryan Lavalley, who also leads UNC’s Community Practice Lab. “The optimism for partnerships and collaboration in aging at UNC was palpable, and I am grateful for all of the partners who came together to make this event a reality.”

Organizers of the Collaboration for Aging event on November 30, 2023PiAP’s Lavalley organized the meeting in collaboration with the UNC Center for Aging and Adult Research and Educational Services (Cares)‘s Drs. Linda Kendall-Fields and Ali Climo and the UNC Center for Aging and Health (CAH)‘s Dr. Denisé Dews. The meeting, held at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, was led by long-time community leader and aging advocate, Dennis Streets.

“I’ve been doing this work for many years, and I know firsthand how critical partnership is for building and sustaining age-friendly communities,” said Streets. “I am eager to see how PiAP will evolve further, and I trust that UNC will continue its commitment to supporting university-community partnerships around aging through research, education, and community engagement. Creating opportunities for students is especially important in this work. I am also excited to see how the collaboration in Chapel Hill might expand to all campuses across our state.”

Dennis Streets facilitates dialogue at the Collaboration for Aging event on November 30, 2023The Collaboration for Aging event continued the work of imagining PiAP as a potential collaborative aging coalition at UNC to foster partnership across schools, departments, centers, and units. Participants learned about the history and current status of aging initiatives at UNC and connected with others working on aging-related projects across campus. Together, attendees dialogued around needs, ideas, and long-term goals for aging collaboration at UNC.

Over the next two decades, North Carolina’s 65+ population is expected to increase from 1.7 to 2.7 million. Experts predict increases of 25% for individuals aged 65-74, 88% for those aged 75-84, and 116% for people aged 85 and older.

“We live in an aging society, and the projected growth among age groups 65 and older will greatly challenge individuals, families, and communities across the state,” said UNC Cares Director Kendall-Fields. “It is vitally important that we bring the talents and skills of UNC teachers, students, researchers, and community engagement leaders together to positively impact the health and wellbeing of older adults and their families across our state in the years to come. I’m so excited about the potential for this collaborative!”

The recent report of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Task Force on Healthy Aging called upon the UNC System “to undertake or arrange for a study that includes recommendations for enhancing research, education, training, and continuing education to respond to North Carolina’s aging demographic, promote healthy aging, and address the workforce needs in serving an aging population.”

Participants and organizers of the Collaboration for Aging event on November 30, 2023An additional goal of the event was to begin coordinating UNC’s contributions to North Carolina multisector aging plan, “All Ages, All Stages NC: A Roadmap for Living Well.” North Carolina’s Commitment to Building an Age-Friendly State specifies that higher education institutions, along with other North Carolina entities, are “encouraged to support and provide input on the creating of age-friendly programs developed through the implementation of” a multisector aging plan. As a state university, UNC hopes to coordinate contributions from across campus to the North Carolina multisector aging plan.

This is a developing initiative, and the UNC Collaboration for Aging event is only the beginning. Please reach out to Dr. Ryan Lavalley ( with any questions, comments, or interest in joining the discussion.

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