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‘Dancing couple’ wins age-positive icons competition

12:00am | & Lifestyle

A winner has been unveiled in a competition to find new ‘age-positive’ icons to better portray older people and avoid negative stereotypes.

Putting a fun and light-hearted twist on the official UK road sign warning of elderly people crossing, the winning design depicts an older couple breaking through the sign’s boundaries as they dance their way across the road.

As reported in a previous Acorn blog, the online competition was launched in September by the Centre for Ageing Better – a charitable foundation funded by the National Lottery Community Fund – with the backing of government body Public Health England.

It sought to combat negative age-related stereotypes in media imagery and even in things like road signs, such as the sign for elderly or frail people crossing the road. Although well-intentioned and instantly recognisable, this outdated icon has been criticised for portraying older people as hunched over, slow moving and reliant on walking sticks.

The competition was well-received, garnering national TV coverage and attracting more than 120 entries. The winning submission, from graphic design company SwaG Design, is a playful update on the UK road sign, using an older couple who’ve definitely still got it!

Dan Gallimore, who founded SwaG with Jon Miller in 2005, said: “We chose to evolve the current UK road warning sign for older people hunched over by providing a positive reason for the posture. Dancing is one of the things that people of all ages love as it promotes physical, mental and emotional health, as well as a chance to be sociable, expressive and uplifting.”

The panel of expert judges felt the winning design captured the diversity of older people, portraying an active and social pair, while breaking out of the triangular road sign shape. They were particularly pleased with the reworking of the walking stick in the original sign (pictured) to become a dancing cane.

The judges will now support Ageing Better, Public Health England and a representative group of older people in working with SwaG Design to produce a final design and wider set of icons and illustrations that depict the diversity of people in later life. The winning icon will be made publicly available for unlimited use by any individual or organisation keen to promote ageing in a positive light. Ageing Better anticipates the final designs will be available by February 2021.

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