AFS Blog

“Age-Friendly” Collaboration at Sarasota County Government

Posted on June 01, 2017 | by Miranda Lansdale
“Age-Friendly” Collaboration at Sarasota County Government

Editor’s Note: Miranda Lansdale is the Community Outreach Specialist for Sarasota County and a participant of Age-Friendly Day.

During our meetings with Age-Friendly representatives from The Patterson Foundation, we heard them express a desire for an event that would showcase the guiding principles of the Age-Friendly Initiative. When our Neighborhood Services team sat down to determine how we would celebrate National County Government Month (April) this year, we realized it was a perfect opportunity to meet our goals – raising awareness of county government programs and resources – while working toward Age-Friendly goals as well.

We designed a series of 30-minute segments to address each of the Age-Friendly Domains of Livability. What surprised me, as I examined the goals and objectives for each domain, was the variety of perspectives from which these domains can be (and are) addressed through county government. The agenda ended up featuring over twenty presenters, representing eleven different departments and agencies, within our organization.
As the host of Sarasota County’s Civics 101 program, I had heard the majority of these presenters speak before and was confident they would shine a light on the fabulous work that’s being done in our community. But unlike Civics 101, in this situation, the presenters were not isolated by their departments. A handful of panels brought representatives from these departments together, and it was encouraging to hear them build their stories off one another. It demonstrated the collaboration and admiration that are foundational aspects of Sarasota County government. It also reinforced the belief that designing a community for an aging population can benefit us all – and that Sarasota County government is moving forward with that reality in mind.

I know for some of the attendees, their favorite part of the day was the hands-on “Elder Sensitivity Training” (which is included in New Employee Orientation for every Sarasota County government employee). For others, it was the wealth of information they received on county programs and resources that, despite their familiarity with the Age-Friendly movement, they hadn’t even known existed.

For me, the best part of the day hit early on. It was the moment when Vickie French, Volunteer Resources Coordinator at Sarasota County Government, shared her very recent discovery that the online description of every library’s location and hours also includes the SCAT Bus Route number that it is served by... which is great! But when she performed a similar search for the county parks, there were no bus routes listed. That information is helpful not only to park-goers but also to volunteers who want to serve their community at parks. Vickie acted right away by putting a call into SCAT and asking them to provide that information for our park facilities; the feature should be displayed soon. I love how quickly that connection was made. I look forward to seeing more connections like that made in the future, as we continue to work toward the vision of an Age-Friendly Sarasota.



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