The Active Energy project involved a participatory arts approach to empowering and stimulating older people’s active creativity. Participants drew on their own life experience to propose technological innovation based on local knowledge and real need. Specialist input helped turn their ideas into reality, with art installations and exhibitions bringing them to public attention. Themes have included a scheme for powering London with tidal energy generated through the flow of the River Thames, while a seniors’ group in Pittsburgh has addressed the increasingly pressing issue of Alzheimer’s disease. This linking of personal interest to public value has resulted in the work holding particular meaning for the lives of those involved, providing benefit to quality of life and well-being. The project raises questions of how the interdisciplinary and person-centred methods of participatory arts can be utilized to make a greater contribution to the health of our nations.