A new portrait of aging in Mantua

Not everyone’s mother appears in a massive mural on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. But Madeline Arrington’s does.

Madeline’s mother, Ola Collins, now 92, was an early community activist. She owns a home in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, as does her daughter.

Like Ola, Madeline is also a community activist. Most recently, she has been busy as a board member of the Mantua Civic Association (MCA). She heads two committees, one targeting neighborhood beautification and another focused on the community’s aging population. MCA is a key partner in the Ralston Age- Friendly West Philadelphia initiative.

The initiative’s first program was Walk Age-Friendly Mantua, an intergenerational effort designed to engage a cross-section of stakeholders, from older adults to students at local schools and universities, in improving the physical environment. Up first is installing age-friendly benches and directional signs that help seniors safely navigate their neighborhood.

Madeline and MCA are also assisting Ralston’s Food & Company, which improves older West Philadelphians’ access to fresh, healthy foods. “They are simple concepts,” Madeline says, “but important ones, because they help older people remain in their community.”

“Ralston is an established, focused organization, and it has a sterling reputation. They have taken a very personal, caring approach to Mantua, and not from a distance but right in our community.

“Organizations like Ralston and the Mantua Civic Association are coming together to keep Mantua alive,” Madeline continues. “We’re just at the beginning of what we’re going to accomplish. But we’re con dent we’re going to make a big difference.”

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