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MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Winner of ‘Positive Aging Award’ says it helps to stay young
BY ELLEN ELDRIDGE
In 1995, Linden Longino was “on loan”
to the Carter Center during his final years
as a banker with SunTrust. He worked
with former President Jimmy Carter and
his associates on an inner-city poverty pro
gram called The Atlanta Project.
“I worked in south Atlanta in the Carv
er Homes area, the very poor neighbor
hood, and I tried to bring some much
needed banking services into that area,”
But he also saw kids “trying to grow
up under awful conditions, facing gangs
and drugs.” He wanted to help them “do
something constructive,” so he started a
program for Atlanta kids and kids from
other countries to show their artwork at
the 1996 Olympics.
“It happened and it was successful, and
one thing led to another, and I was con
tacted by people with the United Nations
in New 5fork, asking if I could do a world
wide childrens exhibit for a meeting they
were having in New York on civil rights,”
More than 20 years later, the Interna
tional Paint Pals program is still going,
and Longino recently received recogni
tion from an association of 150 nonprof
its dedicated to seniors. The organization,
LeadingAge Georgia, recognized Longino
for his longtime community service and
“positive aging” lifestyle.
Longino said his motto is “To stay
young, help the young.”
The Paint Pals organization first ex
hibited at the 1996 Centennial Olympics
in Atlanta and has mounted exhibitions
around the world ever since, including at
the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia last
“Art is a universal language for kids,
and anyone really, to express themselves,”
the Buckhead resident said. “Internation
al Paint Pals gives children a worldwide fo
rum to express their views on global issues
and share their similarities and differences
through visual creativity.”
In total, more than 200,000 young art
ists from around the world have partic
ipated in International Paint Pals events
since 1995, most recently in Barcelona.
The organization unveiled a
3,000-piece collection, called “My Dream
of Peace,” which included work from 91
countries, to express hopes for peace at the
2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Lau
International Paint Pals and Friend
ship Force International, an Atlanta-
based nonprofit, selected two art piec
es from each country represented. They
were exhibited at the Nobel Peace Lau
reates Summit held in Barcelona in mid-
“Peace of Art” events took place in
schools and communities across Atlanta
and the world. These events included one
for the children and grandchildren of resi
dents and staff at Lenbrook, the 500-plus
resident senior community where Longi
“I have donated many artworks from
several exhibitions to Lenbrook,” Longi
no said. “They have been nicely framed
for brightening the walls in the Healthcare
Center rooms, much to the delight of the
Jacque Thornton, senior vice president
of LeadingAge Georgia, said the award
given to Longino was created to reframe
the image of aging.
“The Positive Aging Awards program
rightfully recognizes elders who are still
generously giving of their time and talents
to the community and changing the lives
of others for the better,” she said. “These
honorees show us how we can all contin
ue to learn, grow and contribute at any age
Earning the award made Longino feel
“positively old,” he joked. “When we lose
our sense of humor about the inevitable,
then we truly are old.”
As happy as Longino was with the rec
ognition, he said what matters most is the
people he helps.
“I was delighted to have the [Leadin
gAge Georgia] recognition, but I was more
delighted when a Nobel Peace Prize win
ner came up and gave me a hug,” Longi
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A thank-you note from a teacher in Ka
bul, Afghanistan, also hit home, he said.
“She’s in great risk because girls in Af
ghanistan are sometimes shot on their way
to school and teachers run that risk all the
time,” Longino said. “A woman teaching
girls in Afghanistan is a very brave individ
ual and takes great risks.”
The teacher wrote to acknowledge that
Longino understands “we all want peace,
the children suffer the most and the ex
hibit gives some of them a little hope that
their cries for peace will be heard some
“It’s messages like that that keep me go
ing,” he said.
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THIS IS MORE THAN AN EXHIBITION OF
THESE PICTURES ARE VOTES FOR
PEACE. THEY ARE VISUAL CRIES FOR
FROM THOSE WHO SUFFER THE MOST
IN MANY PLACES.
AND FROM THOSE WHO SYMPATHIZE
WITH THEM THE MOST
IN ALL PLACES.
THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD.
"I know you can understand the hard
conditions we live under. We all want peace.
The children suffer the most. This exhibit
gives some of them a little hope that their
cries for peace will be heard somewhere."
— Laila, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Top, Linden Longino, right, was honored by LeadingAge Georgia
as an example of “positive aging” and for his longtime leadership
of International Paint Pals. Joining him, at left, Chris Keysor,
president and CEO of Lenbrook, a resident senior community
in Buckhead, and Jackie Durant, also of Lenbrook.
Middle, some of International Paint Pals’ art was chosen from around the
world for display at the 2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
Bottom, a teacher in Afghanistan sent Longino
a note thanking him for the program.