AFS Blog

Civically Engaged #ForAllAges

Posted on April 30, 2019 | by Josephine Eisenberg
Civically Engaged #ForAllAges

Do you ever wonder what really motivates people to become involved in their community and to be civically engaged? Most of the time, it is a specific issue that encourages others to become involved. Sometimes it is frustration regarding a certain issue that compels someone to speak up or to take action. Whatever the reason, the truth is we all want to feel as though our voice matters!

Recently, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County and Age-Friendly Sarasota teamed up to encourage county residents to complete a 24-question survey that will help Sarasota County identify priorities over the next several years and to create an action plan that will promote active, engaged, and healthy living for people of all ages.

I, along with the rest of the Age-Friendly Sarasota (AFS) Engagement Team, had the wonderful opportunity to spend six weeks connecting with 500+ community members while sharing information about AFS and listening to their age-friendly aspirations for Sarasota County.

The AFS Engagement Team was asked to serve as the ‘boots on the ground’ with the task of sharing the survey with as many Sarasota County residents as possible. So off we went to connect, learn, and share with the community. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was thrilled to witness the positive reactions of community members as soon as they understood why we were asking them to complete this survey. Almost all of the reactions were positive… “Of course I will take the survey,” “YES, and can I take some information to share at my meeting tonight?” and “This is important stuff. I will absolutely complete the survey.” Throughout our discussions, there was a realization that this was a unique opportunity to help guide the county as they set priorities for the next few years, which could influence how we are all able to live well in Sarasota at any age.

I was inspired to see how eager people were to share their thoughts via this county assessment and how important others felt it was to be a part of an age-friendly community. As we connected with community members of all ages, it became evident there is a collective aspiration to live in a community that engages all generations.

As this AFS project comes to completion, I walk away smiling to myself and feeling encouraged to be amongst so many other civically engaged people. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said that we should “never solely depend upon institutions to solve a community’s problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through the passion of individuals.”


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