Your voice matters
There are lot of ways we can take action to change how people think about aging. We need all our voices, added together, to create a society where everyone is valued at every age. But, it starts one person at a time.
Where to start? That’s why we created this ageism activism center. If you haven’t yet, learn more about ageism on our blog and through our campaigns. Ageism impacts our mental and physical health, our financial welfare and our economy. The good news is that there are things we can do about it as individuals, from small changes in our words to impacting how our businesses and government behave.
Learn more about steps you can take with:
Let’s spread the word that ageism is not okay.
More and more people of all ages and backgrounds are accessing social media every day. It is free and open to grassroots movements – like ours. We want to create a culture where people are not discriminated against due to their age, whether at work, at home or anywhere we connect.
One way to increase awareness is by sharing on social media. We can make even more impact by coordinating our efforts, doing things like sharing the same message with the same hashtags.
Some things you can do if you are on social media:
- Follow Changing the Narrative on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share our posts with your networks.
- Connect with other ageism activists through groups like Ending Ageism Together.
- New to social media? Try searching on terms like “free social media courses” or sites like this.
- Stay connected with our events and trainings, including social media campaigns. Sign up for our newsletter here.
Writing for the Media
You do not have to be an experienced writer to submit your opinions to media outlets. You just need passion, willingness, and a little guidance.
Letter Writing Resources
Changing the Narrative offers trainings on how to write letters to influence. Check out our tools and tips and then connect with us to meet others and to keep learning:
- Watch a recording of one of our trainings. Join our newsletter list to hear about more trainings.
- Need a visual? Check out the Letter Writer Job Aid.
- Read a sample letter to the editor on age discrimination from our Director.
- Check out these tips from media pro Katie Reinisch.
And, you can join our Ending Ageism Together Facebook group to learn from others.
Some other helpful resources online:
The OpEd Project
This group has great tips that are also applicable to writing letters to the editor, especially the section on writing Ledes and News Hooks: Catching Attention. They also have a list of submission requirements for major papers in the U.S.
M & R
Their Fast LTE tool (LTE stands for Letters to the Editor) provides a fill-in-the-blank template with question prompts that can help you turn your ideas and passion into the letter to the editor that you can copy, paste and send off. M & R also has some contact information on places to submit your letters. https://www.mrss.com/lab/opinion-page-yellow-pages/
Background on Ageism Topics
Are you writing about an issue? Get the facts.
Reaching Elected Officials
Your legislators represent you. It’s their job to understand what matters to you. Let them know what that is.
It’s not as intimidating as you think. Your representatives, whether local or national, cannot be experts on everything. Elected officials depend on us, their constituents, to let them know what matters to us and what impacts our communities and our lives.
You can start with writing a letter or email or making a call. With local officials, you may even be able to schedule a meeting.
Start by finding your elected official
General Tips for Contacting Elected Officials
- Try a phone a call, especially with local officials. More can be handled in a short call than a series of emails.
- Be ready with what you want to say when you call. You may be leaving a message or speaking with someone who has very little time. Know how to get your point across in 100 words or less.
- Research what interests the official and try to find connections. When you have a chance for a conversation, be prepared and make it a good one.
- Have a call to action. Ask them to do something, like learn more about the issue or vote for a certain piece of legislation.
- Offer resources. If you are part of a group that discusses the issue, you could invite a local official to your meeting.
- Elected officials get so many form letters. Try to personalize yours. With local officials, a call may be a better way to be heard. They may not have your expertise and need to know your story.
Resources for Contacting Elected Officials
Getting rid of ageism happens one person at a time. Each of us can do things to create change, just based on what we say and how we act. We can help change what is considered normal by choosing to say and do things differently. Some ideas:
Consider your own language and internalized ageism
- Do you have negative thoughts about yourself based on your age?
- How do you talk about people who are younger and older than you?
- Learn more about internalized ageism
- Discover your own biases. Take the Harvard Implicit Bias test
Call out ageism
Don’t use age alone to classify people. We are all more than just our age. Think about it: are all people of a certain age really the same?
Respond when you hear others use ageist language, like:
- “I’m too old for that?”
- “You look good for your age.”
- “Only (insert an age or generation) people do that.”
- “Look at that driver. Must be an old guy.”
Share Your Story
We are always looking for stories to share. Do you have a personal experience of ageism? We can help you use it to help others. Let us know your story.
Have a story that counters the ageist narrative? We are also always looking for examples that help change perceptions. We’d love to hear it.
Be a positive example
- Share stories on your social media and in person that promote positive examples of aging.
- Send birthday cards that aren’t ageist and celebrate age.
- Support causes and efforts that treat all people with equity.
- Don’t shy away from conversation or activities with other generations.
- Start your own intergenerational conversation.
- Don’t denigrate yourself based on age – or anyone else.
- Share this Ageism Activism Center with others.
Last but not least, keep learning and be willing to consider making changes. We all have something to offer and we are all works in progress, no matter our age.