Metta Fund

Ageism Awareness Campaign Launches in San Francisco

San Francisco Launches Innovative Ageism Awareness Campaign to Help Create a More Inclusive City

EndAgeism.com Campaign Features Diverse Older San Franciscans with Strengths that Never Get Old

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today San Francisco becomes one of the first cities in the country to launch a campaign to raise awareness of ageism, disrupt negative stereotypes of older adults, and connect residents with supportive services. A partnership of the San Francisco Human Services Agency’s Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), Metta Fund, the Community Living Campaign, and a network of over 30 community providers and advocates, the Reframing Aging San Francisco campaign is based on local research and a growing national movement towards creating more inclusive communities around aging. 

Ageism is prejudice or discrimination based on assumptions about someone’s age. Ageism may be directed towards older people by younger generations or be internalized by someone as a sense of diminished value as they age. Negative assumptions about older people and their marginalization have a wider impact on all of San Francisco, affecting hiring decisions, community involvement, and governmental policies. 

Dispelling stereotypes about older adults and promoting positive images about aging comes at an important time, as San Francisco’s demographics are changing. Our population of older adults is growing substantially. Projections by the California Department of Finance indicate nearly 30 percent of residents will be age 60 or older by 2030. 

“When people think of our City’s reputation for innovation and vibrancy they often think of young people, but in fact older adults are the fastest growing age group in San Francisco. Their experience and energy are assets that we need to draw upon, not minimize,” said Mayor London Breed. “Negative stereotypes about older people hurt all of us, and cause us to miss out on the skills, intelligence, and other strengths that older San Franciscans contribute to our workplaces and communities.”

The community is encouraged to get involved and visit EndAgeism.com, where they can help spread the word by taking a pledge to help end ageism, find volunteer opportunities, and connect to the wide range of services that San Francisco offers for older adults.

Reframing Aging San Francisco features local older adults in thought-provoking imagery to address implicit biases about older people, highlight the diversity of the aging experience and celebrate the strengths that remain with us throughout our lifetime, such as leadership, courage, passion, creativity, and intelligence. Five local residents star in the campaign. Each has their own unique history and experience as an older adult living in the City, from Chet, a formerly homeless resident who became a UCSF Citywide counselor and today is pursuing his acting career, to Susie, who runs Bayview’s Black Cuisine Festival and created the Monday Night Jams music series.

“This campaign is not only about serving older adults, but empowering them and our entire City to recognize their value within our community,” stated Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of the Department of Aging and Adult Services. “By addressing ageism, we can promote a more inclusive City and highlight opportunities for connection and support.”

The Reframing Aging San Francisco campaign grew out of findings in the 2016 and 2018 DAAS community needs assessments and recommendations from the Age- and Disability-Friendly San Francisco Task Force. This research found that feelings of invisibility and exclusion from mainstream society often prevent older people from actively participating in their community and contribute to isolation, a key negative determinant of health. The Department also identified a need to improve public awareness of services so that older adults and their families know how to access support. The campaign is also guided by innovative research from the Frameworks Institute, a think tank that develops research-based strategies to drive social change.

The initiative builds on San Francisco’s long history of innovation and partnership with local community-based organizations and advocates to provide services that enable older adults and people with disabilities to remain engaged and active members of our City. 

Reframing Aging San Francisco engages the public with vivid imagery featuring older adults juxtaposed on younger faces, prompting the viewer to reconsider their expectations of the aging experience. In addition to attracting the attention of younger adults, the campaign engages older people to learn more about ageism, as well as the available resources that support community connection. 

“San Francisco’s range of services, supports, and connections seek to enhance the lives of older adults so they can thrive as they age,” stated Janet Y. Spears, CEO of Metta Fund. “This is not only about serving older people, but also about building a more caring and prosperous community where everyone—no matter their age—is afforded equitable opportunities.”

“My peers and I often feel invisible in our City, but we want to continue actively contributing to our community,” said Chet Peeples, one of the older adults featured in the Reframing Aging SF campaign. “We have so much to offer, such as compassion, care and our life experiences that can help solve problems, comfort those in need, and add vibrancy and diversity to our neighborhoods and our City.”

The first phase of Reframing Aging San Francisco launches in October and will be featured at the Caltrain station, on MUNI buses, transit shelters, city light poles, wallscapes and on social media. 

For more information visit EndAgeism.com, or the campaign’s Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

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About the Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) 

As one of the departments within the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA), DAAS provides services for older adults, veterans, people with disabilities and their caregivers to maximize their safety, health, and independence. The DAAS Benefits and Resources Hub streamlines access to services by providing information and making connections to services throughout the City. With a single call to (415) 355-6700 or a visit to 2 Gough Street, you can learn about and apply for available services. DAAS and HSA’s larger network of supportive services are dedicated to helping San Franciscans achieve their full potential through all stages of life. 

About Metta Fund

Metta Fund is a private foundation dedicated to advancing the health and wellness of San Francisco’s aging population. In 2017, the foundation made a 10-year commitment to focus on social isolation—and its detrimental health consequences—amongst older adults. Metta Fund strives toward a vision of an inclusive, connected, multi-generational, healthy and thriving San Francisco.

About the Community Living Campaign

The Community Living Campaign advances the ideas, talents and energies of older adults and people with disabilities through community-building, empowerment, and advocacy. CLC’s Community Connector and other neighborhood-based networks cultivate and strengthen the friendships and support residents need to age and thrive in place. Their empowerment programs help neighbors build the skills and tools needed to have a good life, whether that’s learning how to prepare healthy food, use technology, find employment, or be a strong advocate for themselves and others. Their advocacy helps individuals speak out and also brings together diverse coalitions to work toward a truly age- and disability-friendly city.