AFS Blog

Age-Friendly Sharing Symposium – Synergy in Action

Posted on May 29, 2018 | by Bob Carter
Age-Friendly Sharing Symposium – Synergy in Action

I have always been taken with the concept of “synergy” – that state where two or more people or organizations working together can produce a much greater effect than working separately. I’ve had the great pleasure of experiencing it in my professional life, but it rarely happened by accident. It was almost always about the right partners in the right atmosphere.

This was the thought behind creating a Sharing Symposium in 2016 when Age-Friendly Sarasota (AFS) hosted the inaugural gathering of communities in concert with AARP Florida. May 1-2 was the third annual connecting, learning and sharing event in downtown St Petersburg. Initially convened by The Patterson Foundation, this time, the Symposium was presented by Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

This 3rd sharing event impressively showed the growing synergy of the movement with more than 70 statewide participants in attendance. Uniquely impressive, was a broadening scope of organizational presence. Participants now included representation not just from age-friendly communities throughout Florida, but also from Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA), Florida Department of Health, Area Agencies on Aging, Florida Philanthropic Network, AARP’s Livable Communities national program, 4generations Institute, The Patterson Foundation (TPF), and others.

Deputy Secretary of DOEA, Richard Prudom’s opening address focused on the commonality of purpose and the power of collaboration, and how DOEA’s decades-old Communities for a Lifetime initiative and its new Dementia Care & Cure Initiative were now aligning with Florida’s Age-Friendly Communities effort coordinated through AARP. Multiple statewide and community leaders followed, sharing valuable information, ideas, and aspirations. Bill Armbruster, Senior Advisor for AARP’s Livable Communities national program, talked about the age-friendly movement as a “process.” He highlighted the importance of messaging and changing the dialogue, giving an example of moving the discussions on “transportation” to that of “mobility management.” He stressed the importance of engaging people and identifying champions in our communities. Chuck Henry, Florida Department of Health Officer for Sarasota County, was in attendance throughout the Symposium and discussed the importance of the age-friendly movement’s shared goals with the Florida Department of Health. Many others expressed similar sentiments.

The network of people and organizations committed to embracing concepts and practices for an age-friendly community for all ages continues to grow. The evolution of the Sharing Symposium, since its creation in 2016, illustrates the power of connecting, learning, and sharing. Organizational leaders are joining the effort, working together for a common purpose, helping it evolve and strengthen along the way. Visions, missions, and goals from multiple arenas are becoming aligned and interconnected. The age-friendly / livable community movement is moving beyond its initial organizational and geographic settings. It’s creating a “synergy” for the common good, and it shows great promise in making our communities more livable for people of all ages.


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