Philadelphia is a young city - the average age is around 34 - and at an event like Fast Forward >> Philly, we tend to focus on that middle slice of the Philadelphia population that attends design-centered events. But the low average age of Philadelphians hides that fact that of the 10 largest cities in the US, Philadelphia has the largest proportion of people over 60. According to the mayor's office, that population will double by 2035 as the Baby Boom generation retires. Those older adults are balanced by an unusually high birth rate in the city, meaning we have both a large number of children and a large number of older people who live here. Studies show that more than a third of older adults suffer from social isolation, which can lead to depression and declining mental and physical health. One simple step we can take to improving the health of older Philadelphians is connecting them to children. Intergenerational programs have been shown to benefit older people, while improving younger people’s self-image and making them less likely to use drugs or alcohol. I would like to talk about intergenerational connections that can be made within the city (highlighting, of course, the ways genealogy can be a starting point for those relationships) and talk about some interesting architecture and design ideas that bring generations together.
Kathryn Manz was an elementary school teacher for ten years before becoming Operations Manager at the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, where, among other things, she plans educational programming for older adults researching their family history. Because she loves helping people of all ages learn about and connect with Philadelphia history, she spends her weekends leading architectural history tours through the Center for Architecture and answering questions about synthetic fibers at the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum.