After more than a quarter century leading the Senior Friendship Centers organization, I am now beginning an exciting new part-time role as an Age-Friendly Sarasota initiative consultant for The Patterson Foundation.
What an exciting opportunity for someone who has spent much of his professional career engaged in the field of aging, and who has also been so fascinated by Sarasota County’s demographic prominence in the global longevity revolution now before us. In some respects, we might be considered an epicenter of this historic change.
Very briefly, Age-Friendly Sarasota (AFS) is part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global network of Age-friendly cities and communities. In May 2015, Sarasota County officially connected with this important effort, and became the first community in Florida to join more than 280 communities worldwide. AFS is now in the early stages of a two-year assessment of Sarasota’s age-friendly assets and future aspirations within WHO’s Eight Domains of Livability.
Locally, this initiative is actively supported by The Patterson Foundation, which has an impressive history of enhancing impact through purposeful partnerships. AFS’s partnerships include not only Sarasota County Government, but also AARP Florida, the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and our local University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Dr. Kathy Black, a prominent gerontologist and professor at USF-Sarasota-Manatee, is a key Initiative Consultant, AFS’s lead researcher, and a partner liaison. Kathy is also a long-time colleague and friend. I feel so fortunate to be joining such a prestigious group.
A key to Age-Friendly Sarasota’s ultimate success will be the effectiveness of engaging the multiple sectors of our community to not only participate and embrace the effort, but also to ultimately assume its ownership. There is a great quote on a wall at The Patterson Foundation (one of so many great inspirational quotes there): “Be the Architect of Change or the Tenant of the Result.” That just about sums up how important I believe Age-Friendly Sarasota is to our community. The longevity revolution needs our creativity, inspiration and leadership. Together as a community, we have a chance to make a real difference, and share our progress with the world.
Special note: This is my first blog post, and I hope to share more as I become more engaged in the AFS Initiative. I’m also new to twitter: @AgingBob. To my brand new followers, thank you and please bear with me as I get more comfortable with the world of social media. I’m hoping this old dog can learn new tricks. Thanks for your time. - Bob
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