Leaders representing 15 communities across Florida met last week in Sarasota for the Age-Friendly Florida Sharing Symposium. This two-day event, a first-of-its-kind gathering of representatives from Florida’s new and emerging Age-friendly Cities and Communities, provided attendees with opportunities to connect and share their experiences while learning from others working toward community enhancements benefiting people of all ages.
The Symposium, which took place Sept. 29 through Sept. 30, was supported by The Patterson Foundation and hosted by AARP Florida and Age-Friendly Sarasota. Sarasota County was the first community in Florida to join the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities in 2015, a movement of more than 300 cities and communities from 35 countries that strive to promote active, happy and healthy lifestyles for people of all ages. Since then, six additional communities in Florida have joined the Network, and eight more are currently exploring the designation.
“Florida has moved quickly to position itself at the forefront of the global age-friendly movement, with a growing number of communities planning for a future that is considerate of the aspirations of people at all stages of life,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, which supports Age-Friendly Sarasota’s partnership between AARP Florida, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida, Sarasota County Government, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. “The Age-Friendly Florida Sharing Symposium served to strengthen the statewide movement by giving the architects of this future an opportunity to connect with and learn from one another to evolve the efforts in their communities.”
Attendees participated in innovative sessions focused on multiple aspects of the age-friendly community journey during the conference. Session topics included finding opportunities within common challenges, ways to engage multiple sectors, the value of age-friendly community features, utilizing the resources of the national and global Network, sharing age-friendly solutions with other communities, and the power of leveraging collaborative communications.
The work of Florida’s age-friendly communities is guided by the aspirations of residents within interconnected Domains of Livability identified by WHO that impact quality of life as people age. Built environment and infrastructure, social capital and inclusive opportunities, and access to community services and information are some of the features being assessed through this process.
Visit agefriendlysarasota.org to learn more about Age-friendly Cities and Communities and the movement in Sarasota County. Follow Age-Friendly Sarasota on Facebook and Twitter, and join the age-friendly conversation on social media using #AgeFriendly and #AgeFriendlyFL.
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