The Age-Friendly movement encompasses a global network of 500 cities and communities worldwide committed to promoting an active, engaged and healthy lifestyle for people of all ages. Sarasota County is one such community. Not just any community, but the first to be designated as Age-Friendly in the State of Florida. On October 28th, Sarasota became the first Age-Friendly community in North America to experience and enjoy an Age-Friendly Festival.
The Age-Friendly Festival provided insight into what our community feels like when residents of all ages are mutually engaged in shared experiences of learning, exploring, experimenting, and just plain fun. Hundreds of organizations and service providers from government, nonprofit, business, and media sectors provided education, entertainment, experiential opportunities, and information for festival goers. Thousands attended. Words like happiness, joy, surprises, fun, and energy described the mood and experiences of attendees, exhibitors, and organizers alike. Many attendees indicated they would share what they had experienced and learned with family, friends, and neighbors.
A co-volunteer and I had the pleasure of sharing information about Age-Friendly Sarasota, the parent of the Age-Friendly Festival so to speak. At the booth, we explained the Age-Friendly journey, a collaborative effort of members throughout the community that resulted in an Action Plan, a community blueprint for Age-Friendly Sarasota. The Action Plan outlines objectives, goals, and strategies in domains understood to influence and enhance health and quality of life. These eight domains of livability, identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), include
- Civic Participation and Employment
- Communication and Information
- Community Support and Health Services
- Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
- Respect and Social Inclusion
- Social Participation, and
Together they address the universal aspirations of living in community, acceptance, and inclusion.
Dialogue at the booth was lively and engaging. Amid thanks to The Patterson Foundation for gifting the event to the community and questions about what is next, we conversed with visitors about their experiences. They were excited about the event and having the opportunity to participate in conversations about issues important to them and the community at large.
- We met a faith-based nurse interested in seeing the expansion of faith-based nursing in the community and spoke with the founders of a local grassroots effort to promote home sharing.
- I talked with a representative of a planned community whose homeowners were looking at ways to revitalize a neighborhood built decades earlier.
- We had the pleasure of hearing exciting results about balance improvement among festival attendees who had previously been tested for balance and had an opportunity to be retested at the festival.
Booth visitors were encouraged to continue the conversation at the domains of livability themed Reflection Lounges where they had an opportunity to share their thoughts on what made a community Age-Friendly. We’ll be sharing those insights soon in a follow-up segment on the Age-Friendly Festival Reflection Lounges.
The festival afforded all who participated an opportunity to enjoy the experiences of the day and the feel of a community for all ages. We were reminded of the wonderful reasons to live in Age-Friendly Sarasota and inspired to continue the journey.