Photo Exhibit features seniors living with passion and purpose

THE PASSIONS PROJECT – LAKEWOOD, a photographic exhibition featuring 20 portraits of local, older adults and highlighting the art of living with passion and purpose, will be on display at the Lakewood Cultural Center Corner Gallery (470 S. Allison Parkway), May 25 – Aug. 31, 2023.  The exhibition is free and open to the public as a part of the City of Lakewood’s annual Inspire Arts Week.

THE PASSIONS PROJECT Exhibit celebration will be held June 2 from 6 – 8 p.m. The event will feature a reception with remarks from Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul and Passions Project Creator/Photographer Heidi Wagner, followed by a panel discussion around ageism and successful aging in society. A limited number of seats are available for the panel discussion and, while free, attendees are required to register for the event by clicking here: THE PASSIONS PROJECT PANEL RSVP or visiting: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/passions-project-lakewood-tickets-598517470867

The panel of experts includes:

  • Phil Shapiro, Founder and Managing Member at Phil Shapiro Senior Living and Co-Founder of Village at Belmar Senior Living Campus
  • Heidi Wagner, Creator/Photographer, The Passions Project
  • Briony Catlow, Ph.D., Director of the University of Denver Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging; and
  • Jodi Waterhouse, Director of Outreach Programs from the CU Multidisciplinary Center on Aging.

THE PASSIONS PROJECT is a portrait series created by nationally-recognized photographer Heidi Wagner that captures the essence of older adults doing what they love to do – from painting, to theater, to community service – many older adults participate in activities they feel passionate about. Wagner uses her camera to show a new view of aging and the importance of living with passion and purpose, making visible what is often unseen; a new view of aging that includes vitality, independence and meaning.

“When you see someone doing what they love to do, you no longer see their age, you see their passion,” Heidi Wagner

According to a June 2022 National Poll on Healthy Aging, nearly all older adults (50-80 years old) have experienced some form of ageism in their everyday lives.

“Ageism is the last bias and prejudice that seems to be accepted readily across society, and we need to change that messaging and that behavior,” said Jodi Waterhouse, Director with The Multidisciplinary Center on Aging at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “Ageism can have a major impact on the health and well-being of older adults, including their mental perception about what it means to age. This is simply not acceptable in our world today. Through education, including important discussions driven by programs like The Passions Project, we can help to change attitudes, values and beliefs for growing older.”

Whether it’s seeing ageist messages and images on television or the internet, encountering people who imply that they’re less capable just because they’re older, or believing stereotypes about aging. Ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and well-being. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death.

“There is a direct and very significant correlation between healthy aging, being engaged, seeing positive imagery of yourself and living your life to the fullest,” said Heidi Wagner. “When we can demonstrate, through images, older adults living their best life, it helps change the perception and the reality of what our older adult life can and will look like,” said Heidi Wagner. “THE PASSIONS PROJECT captures older adults doing what they love and demonstrating the passions that represent them living their fullest lives. Equally important, the project aims to generate discussion around ageism in society and to use art to reflect the beauty of purpose in individuals of all ages.”

According to the State Demographer’s office, Colorado’s population is expected to grow by some 600,000 people in the coming decade, but nearly half of that growth will be in people 65 years and older.

“With the growth of our aging population, we’re elated to bring THE PASSIONS PROJECT to Lakewood and to help catalyze public awareness of older adults and issues that transcend attitudes on politics, religion, and environmentalism,” said Phil Shapiro, co-founder and co-owner of Village at Belmar Senior Living Campus and a Board member of the Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District (ACBID). “Increasing realistic representation of older adults and engaging intergenerational conversation about passions can improve societal perceptions of aging and create community and connection. We’re eager to continue to expand our strategic alliances and exhibit opportunities like this one with the City of Lakewood, as we drive these important discussions as we celebrate, respect and honor our growing older adult population.”

Heidi Wagner started THE PASSIONS PROJECT in 2011 as a photography series that documents older adults doing what they love to do. The emphasis on something all humans have in common – passions – serves to break down barriers. Increasing realistic representation of older adults and engaging in intergenerational conversation about passions can improve societal perceptions of aging and create community and connection.

“Creativity, art and living fully are qualities that transcend age. The Passions Project is a special exhibition to share with the Lakewood community because it beautifully captures the vibrancy and value of a life fully lived,” said Lakewood Cultural Center Arts Program Curator, Laine Godsey. “Aging adults are making significant impacts every day within their communities and that deserves to be celebrated. In fact, some of our special Heritage, Culture and the Arts volunteers are depicted in the images displayed in the exhibition. Seeing new and familiar faces through the Passions Project photography is an excellent way for the thousands of children and adults who visit the Lakewood Cultural Center to witness the tremendous vitality of older adults and the importance of intergenerational connections.”

THE PASSIONS PROJECT – LAKEWOOD has been jointly underwritten by The Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District (ACBID) and Lakewood’s Village at Belmar, an Ascent Living Community.

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