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European Voices for Active Aging (EVAA)

Active ageing - an issue that matters to us all

Over the next 50 years, the number of well-educated, experienced and engaged older adult Europeans will double. Their path of a life which embraces active ageing will profoundly impact European society, governmental policy-making and business opportunities for decades to come. But ageing is still cloaked in stereotypical images of older adults as well as language which implies loss rather than accrued life wisdom. This depiction does not reflect the reality which generations of older adults are experiencing in Europe today.

The European Voices for Active Ageing (EVAA) project was envisioned to foster a sense of community and promote pan-European thinking about active ageing through a series of six participatory dialogues held by and for older adults. In cooperation with its EVAA partners, the European Voices for Active Ageing project created a forum for intercultural and participatory dialogues for these adults aged 50+ to 95. The dialogues fostered a new culture of conversation and empowered the participants to discover their creative and innovative spirit. This approach and dialogue format enabled individuals to exchange their views and discover new approaches to addressing the key issues of active ageing. A rich spectrum of recommendations emerged out of these conversations which are highlighted in this project overview. World Café Europe and its partners plan to share these insights with policy makers in government, civil society and business to initiate a new wave of demographic opportunities throughout Europe.

Led by and for older adults

By design, the EVAA Thematic Cafés on Active Ageing provided a voice to generations of adults aged 50+ to 95. The aim of these dialogues was to empower these individuals to re-define their active role in an increasingly ageing European society. Led by older adults aged 50+, the dialogues provided an intimate peer-to-peer as well as intergenerational environment for reflection and discussion. The decision to have these dialogues led by and for older adults increased their credibility and magnified the dynamics of this stakeholder-driven approach.

A central element of the European Voices for Active Ageing project concept was to actively involve older adults in both the conceptual development and hosting of the Thematic Cafés. By involving older adults in the planning process in this way, opportunities for both personal leadership development and life-long learning were created.

“At this time of my life, I can choose what I want to do.
I want to continue the work (inspired by this project).”

Interviews with the adult facilitators confirmed that the World Café Europe’s coaching approach to fostering adult leadership instilled a personal desire to enhance their know-how and share these skills with peers. These insights have provided valuable input to create a new generation of more advanced coaching workshops. Such workshops would provide an ideal in-depth learning opportunity to enhance the skill-sets of older adults in order to independently design and facilitate high-quality participatory dialogue. More importantly, such a continuing learning experience would provide older adults with a platform for peer-to-peer coaching. This would foster network leadership which would empower an expanding network of motivated and highly experienced older adults to create meaningful and effective dialogues about issues that matter to them across Europe.

The European Voices for Active Ageing project was supported by the EACEA Europe for Citizens Programme Action 1: Active Citizens for Europe of the European Union