Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
June 28, 2019
Biennial Top 7 Over 70 Awards seeks nominations of remarkable older people
2017 winners have deep associations with the university
Retired scholars, alumni, a donor, and others with connections to campus cleaned up at the inaugural Top 7 Over 70 Awards in 2017 — a program that celebrates older adults who are making significant contributions to their communities. The 2019 nominations are open and it’s expected the biennial awards program will once again see a long of list of qualified nominees with associations to the University of Calgary.
“It's great to recognize and celebrate accomplishments of younger people as they come through. But I think it's equally important to recognize and respect and acknowledge the accomplishments of people as they get older,” says Dr. David Hogan, MD, academic lead of the Brenda Strafford Centre on Aging, part of the Cumming School of Medicine’s (CSM) O’Brien Institute for Public Health, and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Hogan helped pave the way for UCalgary to join the Age-Friendly University Global Network, a group of institutions that are committed to programs and policies that reflect the principles of lifelong learning and encourage people in their older years to access and benefit from the university.
“People can accomplish almost anything after 70 other than maybe going for a world's record at 100 metres,” says Hogan. “People go to university, get degrees, write books, bestsellers, are active researchers and scientists, contribute to their community, they’re artists, dancers, painters. So there's a lot of potential in us, no matter what our date of birth might be.”
Jim Gray would agree wholeheartedly. The well-known Calgary businessman, philanthropist and octogenarian came up with the idea for the Top 7 Over 70 Awards to help showcase the fact that older Calgarians have plenty of energy, enthusiasm and experience to share. And sharing is built right into the awards program with Intergen, a not-for-profit that pairs the Top 7 with young entrepreneurs to help them build their businesses and strengthen Calgary’s economy.
“I think that’s a great thing too,” says Hogan. “It leverages the best of both generations — taking wisdom and experience and marrying that with innovative thinking and energy of younger people.”
Top 7 Over 70 also inspires middle-aged people to look ahead what they may want to achieve when they hit retirement and have more time on their hands, something that can be a difficult transition. “To give real joy to life you have to have a reason to get up in the morning; something that is going to interest you and stimulate you,” says Hogan. “Recognizing these accomplishments encourages older people to do new things, learn new things, stretch themselves, and be active in the community no matter what their age might be.”
Anyone who lives in the Calgary area is eligible to be nominated. For his part, Hogan is mulling over more than a few potential candidates for the Top 7 Over 70. “You definitely encounter remarkable older people just as you encounter remarkable younger people,” he says, “and they should be acknowledged and brought to the fore.”