AFS Blog

AFS Community Report Findings: Civic Participation

Posted on January 09, 2017 | by Kathy Black
AFS Community Report Findings: Civic Participation

Age-Friendly Sarasota recently completed an assessment of nearly 1,200 Sarasota County residents’ aspirations regarding community features across eight domains of livability. Findings were analyzed by age groups including Boomers (age 50-69 at the time of the study) and non-Boomer Elders (age 70+).

Civic engagement includes our involvement in aspects of community life that extend beyond our day-to-day activities, such as volunteering, becoming politically active, voting or working on committees. For some, these have been lifelong involvements and for others, our retirement years have created the time for us to become more involved. Civic engagement efforts and intergenerational opportunities for meaningful volunteering benefit both people of all ages in any community throughout our society.

According to the Age-Friendly Sarasota Community Report:

The majority of Sarasota County residents report that a wide range of volunteer activities, easy to find information about volunteer opportunities, and opportunities to participate in decision-making bodies are important civic participation features.

  • Compared to non-Boomer Elders, Boomers place a greater importance across all civic activity features with greatest contrasts on a range of volunteer activities to choose from (86% vs. 77%) and a range of volunteer training opportunities (79% vs. 70%).
  • Approximately two out of ten of all Sarasota County residents are unsure about the importance of access to transportation to and from volunteering activities if needed (18% - 22%).

There is variability regarding the presence of civic opportunities available in Sarasota County.

  • Although more than eight out of ten residents report awareness about a wide range of volunteer activities, between one-quarter (25%) and approximately a third (35%) report being unsure about the existence of decision-making opportunities, easy to find information about available volunteer activities, and volunteer training opportunities.
  • More than half of Boomers (61%) and non-Boomer Elders (58%) report being unsure about the availability of transportation to and from volunteer activities for those who need travel assistance.

Sarasota County residents engage in a wide variety of volunteer activities; top activities include religious, cultural/performance arts, and neighborhood or homeowners’ association involvement. Sarasota County residents report wanting to help people, enjoying the activity and wanting to make the community a better place as top reasons to volunteer.

  • Compared to Boomers, non-Boomer Elders report higher engagement in volunteer activities in all areas with the exception of professional, school, or youth-related activities.
  • Nearly half of non-Boomer Elders report volunteering with cultural/performance arts (48%) and neighborhood or homeowner associations (49%).
  • The top Boomer activities are professionally-related (37%).

Sarasota County residents report a wide variety of civic participation opportunities along with a myriad of factors that both support and impede efforts to volunteer and engage in civic matters.

  • Residents indicate numerous opportunities to volunteer and participate in civic life throughout the community—and involvement is deemed important for both themselves and the greater community.
  • Residents identified multiple factors that facilitate the ability to engage in volunteering and civic opportunities including having available time and aligned interests, being physically capable of participating, knowing where to access opportunities, and having helpful supports to initiate their involvement.
  • Residents reported numerous barriers in accessing civic opportunities including centralized informational sources to access the opportunities, technical savvy to connect to opportunities, costs of participation, and process hassles in accessing the opportunity.

To contact Age-Friendly Sarasota
Join Kathy Black on Twitter: @kblackphd
Join Age-Friendly on Twitter: @AgeFriendlySRQ


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