LANSING — Gov. Whitmer submitted an application on Monday to make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States. The network is the U.S. affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, which began in 2006 to help communities prepare for rapid population aging.

“Michiganders are living longer than ever before, but most of our cities are not equipped to adequately support an older population, so we need to improve the livability of our communities so we meet everyone’s needs,” said state Rep. Angela Witwer (Delta Township), who led the push for Michigan to join the network. “Residents and leaders in Delta Township have been working toward making our community more age-friendly for years, and I believe this is a significant step in the right direction. I am excited by this opportunity for our state, and will continue to work to ensure the Legislature is supporting Michiganders of all ages.”

Earlier this year, Witwer and AARP of Michigan president Paula Cunningham met with Gov. Whitmer to pitch the idea to join the network.

“Rep. Witwer was the first legislator who championed getting Michigan into the Age-Friendly Network,” said Cunningham. “Her ability to work in a bi-partisan way allowed more than eight legislators to be early endorsers of our efforts and helped propel our work forward.”

According to the AARP website, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities provides cities, towns, counties and states who join with resources to improve age-friendliness by tapping into research, planning models and best practices. A proven advocate for Michigan’s older population, Witwer also introduced legislation earlier this year to repeal the 2011 retirement tax.