I attended the coolest and most inspirational event yesterday at Full Sail University in Orlando. The Growing Bolder® Awards Ceremony was described as follows:
Today, we smash the stereotypes of what getting older is “supposed” to look and be like and to celebrate the exciting and limitless possibilities of aging.
We were promised…
There will be nothing OLD and everything BOLD about the Growing Bolder® Awards, the first ceremony of its kind in Central Florida. We’re shining the spotlight on local seniors who, as valuable members of our community, are pursuing their passions and living lives of purpose while making a difference in the lives of others.
Quite an ambitious agenda, huh? Well, I’m here to tell you, they fulfilled their promises. I can only speak for my self but I imagine everyone who left Full Sail University was inspired to reimagine aging.
And inspiration is what Growing Bolder is all about. Their weekly radio segment inspires listeners to chase their dreams. Growing Bolder® TV features stories about real people who have survived challenges and thrived. Their mantra is “It’s not about age, it’s about attitude. The rest of our lives can be the best of our lives”.
These themes and messages serve as a refreshing counterpoint to the constant drumbeat of ageist stereotypes in our society. Marc Middleton, one of the founders of Growing Bolder® says ageism is one of the biggest public health issues facing our society. Visit the card section in your local Target or CVS. The “humorous” birthday cards for post 45 year olds are riddled with messages such as “Wow! You are Really Old!”, “You are officially Over the Hill”, and “You are past your expiration date”. Gag gifts include inflatable walkers (and sometimes real ones). My step-mother gave my father an “Over the Hill” birthday party when he turned 50. As a 27 year old I thought this was funny. Looking back as a 63 year old, I’m less amused. Seniors are characterized as “frail”, mentally slow, even helpless. Most of advertising dollars target people 50 and younger.
So I was thrilled to see real people receiving beautiful Growing Bolder® awards, “Boldies” as they were deemed, “for defying these stereotypes and living full and active lives well past their expiration dates”. Twenty awards were presented. The following is a sampling of the awards:
The Compassionate Caregiving Award presented by the Pabst Foundation to Carol Mead, an artist who has struggled with an impairment resulting from an industrial accident. Carol created a Genealogy Mentoring Program for older adults and opened her home for a teenage rehabilitation program.
The Move Forward. Give Back® Award presented by Growing Bolder honored Joe and Janet Johnston who have mentored local youth. Both are now nationally ranked pole-vaulters (Joe is in his 70s). They have the area’s only private pole-vaulting pit in their backyard and welcome anyone, of any age, to come and learn at no cost.
The Rock Stars of Aging® award was presented to Roselio Muniz who is 102 years old and still has a driver’s license. Dr. Loretta Ford, who founded the Nurse Practitioner movement helping to transform healthcare as we know it, was awarded the Changemaker Award.
Growing Bolder® regularly posts inspirational quotes on their website and Facebook page. One I saw recently says, Note to Self: You are not too old and it is not too late. I would love to present Growing Bolder with the Super Heroes of Aging award for their work to change the perception of aging.