Editor's Note: This post was written by Bob Carter and originally appeared on the American Society on Aging's website in early April 2019.
It was a groundbreaking event that engaged a community of all ages with more than a hundred and twenty-five different organizations participating and thousands more attending. The nation’s first Age-Friendly Festival was a community effort embraced by individuals, businesses, governments, nonprofits, and the media that made the concept of age-friendly blossom into reality:
- The festival amplified the wide scope of what being age-friendly is all about,
- Showcased how a community’s multi-sectors could come together in common purpose,
- Created connections between hundreds of exhibitors, volunteers, and thousands of attendees, and
- Demonstrated how a community could become collective architects of an age-friendly future.
Why an Age-Friendly Festival? The answer relates to the importance of connecting, learning, and sharing. While many individuals and organizations had been engaged in the Age-Friendly Sarasota movement since its start in 2015, it had still only touched a small fraction of the community. Early on in the process, we uncovered many age-friendly services and programs already available, but often isolated without visible recognition. It was clear such efforts were positive, but limited in scope and reach. A broader, bolder approach was needed to inform and engage the general community about the importance of age-friendliness. A community-wide public event could create opportunities to stimulate and enhance collaborations and amplify existing age-friendly achievements.
An Age-Friendly Festival can create a broader, community-wide vision of what age-friendly is all about, and how it affects all age groups. It also builds and strengthens relationships in the process. All communities can do all this in one form or another at their pace and with their local resources. Potential partnerships and collaborative opportunities exist everywhere, in one form or another.
You can engage your community in an exceptional way by creating your own Age-Friendly Festival. We welcome you to join Age-Friendly Sarasota’s workshop, "Every Community Can Create an Age-Friendly Festival," on Monday, April 15, 2019, at 2:00pm to learn how at the 2019 Aging in America Conference.
Need more encouragement? Take a few more minutes and watch the short video link below that highlights the Age-Friendly Festival event. I promise you will feel its energy!