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Jun. 23, 2021 | Wednesday
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Niagara College forum tries to change the conversation on aging
File photo. (PxHere)

Niagara College wants to reshape attitudes toward growing old so it is hosting a two-day forum in June with 12 dynamic speakers discussing a range of topics about positive aging.

The Art of Ageing Forum on June 26 and 27 is hosted by the college and organized by Ageworks, a company committed to reducing stigma around aging and debunking myths about older people.

Marylou Hilliard, principal of Ageworks, says the forum is to help fuel positive energy and build healthy attitudes towards aging. “What we want to do is help stimulate minds and examine new ways to think about older people and share the vibrancy,” said Hilliard.

Hilliard said Niagara is a great location for the event, as there is a high percentage of older people in the region.

The forum will spark a thought-provoking and educational experience, Hilliard said.

In addition to a dozen speakers, the event will feature a photography exhibit, a design challenge in which Niagara College design students and delegates will vote on their favourite poster that challenges outdated perceptions and presents the positive art of aging and networking opportunities.

“Expect a really energetic two days with mind-stimulating activities,” said Hilliard.

One of the speakers, Mark Venning, will talk about “Making Sense of a Longevity Economy.” Venning is the founder of Change Rangers, a company that focuses on the relationship between the economy and people’s rising life expectancy.

Venning is focusing on changing the conversations people have around longevity, as well as exploring opportunities in a longevity economy for a consumer, a business or a new career seeker.Part of Venning’s presentation is the evolution of the modern economy, now including not only boomers but Gen-X babies. By 2030, the first millennials will be turning 50.

“Can you imagine how marketing to a 50-plus consumer might change by then?” Venning said in an interview?

Carolyn Triemstra, dean of community and health studies at Niagara College, says community members can expect excellent speakers, a fun opportunity for networking among peers and older adults, and an opportunity to contribute to the age-friendly movement.

Triemstra said the forum is a unique offering for Niagara. “It is a chance for young and old to come to the college to learn about moving forward the agenda of age-friendly communities, supporting older adults and how we prepare for a future.”

Niagara College is among the first community colleges in Canada to join the Age-Friendly University network, said Triemstra.

That network is a global body of higher education institutions committed to being more accessible to older adults. It is building on the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Communities Initiative, which encourages communities to shape their physical and social environments to support people of all ages.

Working with Ageworks is a step forward for the college in building relationships with older adults, both in the classroom and through events like this forum for community members, Triemstra said.

Other topics that will be covered at Ageworks include the positive effects of mindfulness and neuroplasticity, which relates to how the brain and mind adapt and change throughout people’s lives.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” said Hilliard. “[As long as you] continue to live life to the fullest, regardless of age.”

Tickets for the forum, at the college's Welland campus, start at $125 and available at