Press Releases

2005 Releases

New Campaign Urges Baby Boomers to 'Give Back'

For immediate release:  December 21, 2005

Boston, MA -- With the Baby Boomer Generation set to celebrate its milestone 60th birthday on January 1, the Harvard School of Public Health and MetLife Foundation have launched a national media campaign to promote healthy aging, reshape cultural attitudes toward the older years, and encourage Boomers to volunteer their time, skills, and experience to help strengthen local communities.  The campaign also will challenge the Hollywood creative community to re-think current portrayals of older people in film and television. 

In the campaign’s first TV ad, music impresario Quincy Jones says, “They say when you’re over the hill, that’s when you pick up speed.  The “silver foxes” are the greatest force out there. [They’ve] got so much to give, so much to say.”  Quincy Jones encourages Boomers to “share what you know” by volunteering as mentors to at-risk youth.

Thanks to advances in public health and medicine, the average 60-year-old today can expect to live to the age of 83, and millions will continue well into their 90s.  This longevity revolution has spawned a new, largely unrecognized stage of life, nestled between middle-age and old-age, spanning the period from 60 to 80. As Boomers enter their 60s, they will confront the questions “What’s next?” and “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

Employing a combination of news coverage, advertising, and prime-time entertainment programming, campaign messages will encourage a “balanced portfolio” of priorities for this new stage of life that makes room for community involvement as well as work, family, leisure, travel, and lifelong learning.

The campaign is an outgrowth of a major report, Reinventing Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement, published in June 2004, by the Harvard School of Public Health—MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement.  This Initiative is a project of the School’s Center for Health Communication.  (The report is available online at www.ReinventingAging.org.)  Organizations participating in the initiative include AARP, Civic Ventures, Corporation for National & Community Service, Experience Corps, Generations United, The National Council on the Aging, Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, and Temple University Center for Intergenerational Programs.

“Baby boomers have an important opportunity to redefine aging and the productive role that people can play in later life by becoming involved in our communities,” said Sibyl Jacobson, MetLife Foundation President and CEO.  “We are pleased to support this Initiative, which is stimulating thinking about the impact that boomers can have on our society as they reach retirement and the benefits they will receive from volunteering.”

“This campaign is a call-to-action for all sectors of society to develop plans for tapping the time, energy, and talents of millions of older boomers to strengthen local communities,” said Jay Winsten, Associate Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and Frank Stanton Director of the School's Center for Health Communication.

“We need new language and new images that portray healthy and productive aging.  Who better than the boomers, who have changed almost every social institution they have encountered, to re-invent aging and give new meaning and purpose to our later years,” said Susan Moses, deputy director of the Center for Health Communication and co-director of the campaign.

Center for Health Communication of the Harvard School of Public Health

The Center for Health Communication has helped pioneer the field of mass communication and public health by researching and analyzing the contribution of mass communication to behavior change and policy, by preparing future health leaders to utilize communication strategies, and by strengthening communication between journalists and health professionals.  The Center’s best-known initiative, the Harvard Alcohol Project, demonstrated how a new social concept—the designated driver—could be rapidly introduced through mass communication, promoting a new social norm that the driver does not drink.  For more information about the Center, please visit www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc.

 

MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation's work in the area of aging focuses on Alzheimer's disease, mental fitness, civic involvement, and public awareness of age-related issues today.  Civic-engagement projects include the National Council on Aging Initiative, which will use new models of volunteer programs to meet the interests of today's retirees, and the MetLife Foundation Older Adults Enrich America Community Awards, which celebrate the accomplishments of volunteers age 55 and older.  MetLife Foundation also funded the Giving and Volunteering survey series of the Independent Sector, including four special reports on older adults.  For more information about the Foundation, please visit at www.metlife.org.

For further information contact:
Melissa Penney
Center for Health Communication
617-432-1038
mpenney@hsph.harvard.edu