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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services

Learn how this California AAA worked with local Aging Network leaders to launch a public campaign to raise awareness of ageism, dispel negative stereotypes of older adults and connect residents with supportive services.

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services' Reframing Aging San Francisco program. The agency was a 2020 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Advocacy category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
 
The Reframing Aging San Francisco (SF) initiative seeks to raise awareness of ageism and its cost to communities, disrupt negative stereotypes about aging and connect older residents with supportive services. Leaders from advocacy and service organizations, a private foundation and the San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS) joined together to develop this cohesive strategy to address ageism in San Francisco.
 
After a series of educational sessions with the Frameworks Institute (a nonprofit that specializes in using evidence-based techniques to communicate about social issues), working sessions with agencies serving diverse populations, and local research to understand perspectives on aging and ageism, DAS developed a vivid public messaging campaign that integrates traditional and social media strategies. The campaign showcases how characteristics like creativity and courage never get old. Local older adults' stories are shared on the campaign website.
 
The public awareness campaign resulted in 8,500 clicks on paid social media posts, 5,000 visits to the initiative's website and more than 3,800 people sharing the anti-ageism pledge online. As a result of the campaign, providers have reframed the way they talk and write about aging, a critical first step in changing perceptions. These efforts have been highlighted in news media and celebrated by leading aging advocates.
 
The pandemic has only highlighted how difficult ageism and social isolation and loneliness are to overcome. During the pandemic, Reframing Aging SF has continued its efforts by providing guidance to prevention efforts emphasizing COVID-19 as an intergenerational problem for people with underlying health conditions, not just a problem for older adults; working with the community to help bridge the digital divide; and working with the California Department of Aging on a statewide virtual town hall to combat ageism.
 
Collaboration with a diverse community network that understands local culture is critical for success. Buy-in and participation from local partners significantly extend the audience and impact of public messaging efforts. Develop a shared toolkit of resources that partners can leverage in their own contexts.
 
Learn more about Reframing Aging SF in this San Francisco Senior Beat article. Questions? Contact Shireen McSpadden, Shireen.McSpadden@sfgov.org.
 
For more information about the 2020 Aging Innovations and Achievement Award winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.

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