AFS Blog

Sarasota County Rose to the Occasion with the Nation’s First-Ever Age-Friendly Festival

Posted on October 30, 2017 | by Bob Carter
Sarasota County Rose to the Occasion with the Nation’s First-Ever Age-Friendly Festival

Well, we all did it! Sarasota County rose to the occasion with the nation’s first-ever Age-Friendly Festival. It was a total community effort involving individuals, businesses, governments, nonprofits, and the media. National and state-wide leaders and organizations were also a big part of it. Our “Community for All Ages” was on full display at the Sarasota Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 28th and it was impressive.

Exhibits and experiences were welcoming, interactive, and fun. Kids of all ages became engaged with a range of activities – from petting llamas to practicing Tai Chi, to learning about universal design, living assists, and caregiver support. Health and well-being may have been at the forefront, but the entertainment and fun was ever-present. Education sessions featured national and local experts covering a variety of topics including community innovations, life navigation, housing and transportation options, and so much more. Throughout the midway and exhibition halls, age-friendly came to life.

The Festival was truly a dynamic focal point and historical marker for our local age-friendly movement. It created a unique connection between hundreds of exhibitors, advancers, educators, entertainers, volunteers, and more than 4,000 attendees. It displayed and amplified to our community the broad scope of what being age-friendly is all about: how the quality of life and ability to age optimally are affected by our social and built environments and community resources, and how we as individuals have significant control and responsibility of our aging success. But most importantly, it showed how the multi-sectors coming together in common purpose could produce fantastic synergy and accomplishment.

So where does Age-Friendly Sarasota go from here? With a foundation built on our community’s assets and aspirations, its development continues to evolve in a myriad of ways. Individuals and organizations are becoming the architects of a collective future in a community that keeps raising the bar of ideas and achievement; a community that knows it’s special and wants to be better; a community that cares for its children, its families, its workers and its older adults – a true community #ForAllAges.

New collaborative efforts are taking hold like that of the Friendship Centers, JFCS of the Suncoast, the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy, and Age-Friendly Sarasota. “The Reinvention Convention,” a day-long educational and engagement annual event will focus this year on “Reimagining Perceptions of Aging.” There will be many other efforts as our community continues to embrace and embed the age-friendly movement. The global Longevity Revolution has its epicenter here, and that’s fortunate. To quote the President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, Debra Jacobs, “The reality is that Sarasota County is the petri dish for how the rest of our country will be.” We can be proud our community is stepping forward to embrace this leadership role boldly. History will surely thank us.



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