Saturday, July 22, 2017

Who we are...and here we go

Our population is living a lot longer. Those in their mid-50s are now the new middle age. Last year the person was born who will live to 150.

As our reading audience changes, we will change with them.

One of the first changes we had to face was our name.Active aging served us well for many years, but now it was turning potential readers away. Those in their 50s and 60s did not consider themselves old. And they aren’t.

But before we introduced our new look and new name, we asked some of you in your 50s, 60s and 70s to meet with us and share your interests and concerns as you move from one decade to the next.

We also wanted to know what changes you’d like to see in your newspaper.

We heard what you said: We launched the active age in May 2015.

We heard what you wanted: We’re responding.

You said you liked our historical stories. We’ve told you about old movie theaters and our only remaining drive-in, amusement parks such as Joyland, wheat harvests of yore and Kansas’ connections to World War II, to name a few.

This feedback also is why there have been articles on current events such as personal experiences with racism, how Muslims have been a part of the Americas for 500 years and what it feels like to be transgendered.

Of course, you still like to read what keeps people of any age active and involved. You appreciate information about avoiding scams and other illegal activities, you may find yourself becoming a caregiver and want to know where to get help, you want to keep up-to-date on legislation in Kansas that affects you and you enjoy chuckling when you read It’s Not Serious.

You want to remain informed, entertained and relevant. We do too. Keep telling us what you want to read, and we will keep responding.

Our evolution...

Our nation’s senior population officially hit the spotlight in 1965 when The Older American Act was passed. It began to turn its attention to the opportunities and challenges of aging.

In 1977 the Kansas Department of Aging was established, as was the Gerontology program at Wichita State University. (That program is now called Aging Studies.)

Active Aging was first published at WSU in 1979. Its mission was to explore the issues and information needs of seniors. There were few resources then to connect them to programs and agencies that could help meet those needs.

Several years later the newspaper moved to Friends University. In 2000 its connection with Friends was severed. We became an independent entity and moved to our current location at 125 S. West St.

That informational vision in 1978 has evolved to today’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit newspaper. Back then, we mailed free to some 30,000 50+ readers in Sedgwick, Harvey and Butler counties. Now, we print more than 60,000 papers a month. Our readership numbers more than 112,000 people; a minimum of two people read each paper, and often more.

The cost to connect with you monthly averages $20,000, and that’s just to print and mail the active age. To cover those and our other expenses, we receive a small grant from the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging. The rest comes from donations and advertising.

Your donation matters no matter what you send. The support of our advertisers matters. The CPAAA grant matters. With that support, we will continue to be Kansas’ top 55+ news source and the second largest circulation paper in Kansas.