Age-Friendly Communities: Civic Participation

Photo shows the backs of three older women as they consider two pages of flipcharts on the wall--one labelled "social inclusion," the other labelled "social participation."

When the World Health Organization established its Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in 2010, it recognized eight domains of livability—community features that impact the well-being of older adults. One of those domains is civic participation—the act of working together to make a change or difference in the community.

In addition to making a difference in the community, civic participation helps individuals stay connected—one of the fundamental principles of healthy aging.

Age-Friendly CommunitiesIn King County, we are fortunate to have a lot of opportunities for civic participation. I’ll highlight a few that make a difference for older adults and can have a positive effect on you personally, should you choose to get involved:

  • Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services—The ADS Advisory Council publishes the online newsletter you’re reading right now. More importantly, we advise, advocate, connect, and collaborate with local, state, and federal lawmakers, advocacy organizations, and organizations that provide services for older adults and their families. We participate in the Washington State Senior Lobby and host numerous community forums throughout the year, on issues such as ageism, aging in place, Alzheimer’s, behavioral health, end-of-life planning, food access, health care reform, housing, LGBTQ elders, Medicare, rural aging, transportation, the “Village Model,” and Washington’s aging readiness. As advisors to the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County (Aging and Disability Services), mandated by the federal Older Americans Act, we are part of an effective nationwide aging services network.
  • Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)—RSVP is a nationwide program specially designed by the Corporation for National and Community Service for people age 55 or older. Locally, over 700 RSVP volunteers are coordinated by Solid Ground, a nonprofit organization, serving other nonprofits throughout King County. Learn more by reading Experience in Action, the local RSVP newsletter.
  • Mayor’s Council on African American Elders (MCAAE)—Founded by Seattle Mayor Norman B. Rice in 1995 to oversee development of programs and services serving African American elders, the council is open to anyone in King County who is interested in addressing unmet needs and gaps in services. The MCAAE is staffed by Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County.
  • Northwest Universal Design Council (NWUDC)—This council was launched by the ADS Advisory Council a little over a decade ago to focus on accessibility in the built environment—good design for all ages and all abilities, all the time. In recent years, the NWUDC has broadened its focus to include pedestrian mobility, product design, digital communications, and travel. Participation is open to all. Learn more at
  • Local boards and commissions—Local governments recognize that age diversity is important, and most have openings on boards and commissions that may advise elected officials, make funding decisions and/or help provide public information. Following are openings with specific jurisdictions. If you don’t see something listed in your geographic area or personal area of interest, contact your city manager:  King County | Auburn | Bellevue | Bothell | Burien | Des Moines | Enumclaw | Federal Way | Issaquah | Kenmore | Kent | Kirkland | Maple Valley | Mercer Island | Redmond | Renton | Sammamish | SeaTac | Seattle | Shoreline.

It should come as no surprise that civic and community involvement is a vital part of my life. I hope to inspire your involvement as well. For more ideas of ways that you can make a difference, visit

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of AgeWise King County. Read it here.