Students and the aging community in Abilene will discuss legislative issues at the Texas Silver Haired Legislature town hall meeting Tuesday.
The university’s on-campus center for aging studies, the Pruett Gerontology Center, will host the event. Emily Adams, student associate for the center, said the event will have more attendees than in previous years, with 300 community members and as many as 100 students. Students in gerontology classes will participate in the meeting by helping the community members discuss and record issues.
“We want to really encourage people that even if you might not exactly know what issues are being faced,” said Adams, senior communication disorders major from Frisco, “getting out there and just sharing your opinion on what you experience in day-to-day life is really important.”
As a political advocacy group, the Texas Silver Haired Legislature hosts meetings across the state to hear what policies matter to the aging community. The issues are then presented to state lawmakers at the next legislative session. Adams researched the event last year and found six out of ten issues discussed at the Abilene town hall became state legislation that year.
Some of the top issues from last year included transportation from rural homes, healthcare for veterans and more events to build community among the aging population.
The town hall meeting will be dedicated to Chris Kyker, a TSHL leader who died in September. Kyker, whose late husband Rex chaired the Department of Communication for many years, taught speech and directed theatre at ACU from 1946-1950, according to the Abilene Reporter News. In the 1970s, Kyker became an advocate for the aging population in different organizations throughout Texas. She was also the founding president of Disability Resources Inc.
Adams said the town hall also helps students have positive interactions with the older generation. She said the event sparked her own interest in researching the aging population.
“I did not realize how overlooked the aging population is,” Adams said. “I want to start addressing these problems. I want to work towards fixing it because the Baby Boomers are getting older, and as that population continues to grow, those problems are just going to get worse if we don’t fix it now.”
Local policy makers will be present at the event, including Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams and U.S. Rep. Stan Lambert. The event will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Hunter Welcome Center.