Sharing Age-Friendly Sarasota with World Health Organization leaders in Geneva
Earlier this week, Age-Friendly Sarasota (AFS) was presented to the Ageing & Life Course Team at the World Health Organization in Geneva. I was invited to speak to the group and was proud to share Age-Friendly Sarasota's efforts to date and discuss broader considerations about the global age-friendly community movement -- one that now includes nearly 300 member municipalities.
The team was pleased to hear about our efforts in the baseline phase. Launched on May 6, 2015, and not even a year into the initiative, there was much to share. Age-Friendly Sarasota conducted surveys and focus groups throughout Sarasota County that involved 1,172 people. The data is currently being analyzed and will soon be shared with the community to continue to assess our collective assets and the aspirations of our residents in eight areas of life:
The team was further impressed with the progress in many of the domains to date, recognizing that Sarasota County has already achieved age-friendly objectives. For example, the voluntary Sarasota County Certification for Visitability and Universal Design for Builders and the adoption of age-friendly language into the comprehensive plan.
Indeed, there was recognition that AFS actively seeks to engage our governmental partner as well as our broader efforts focused on people, businesses, nonprofits and the media. According to the team, these efforts demonstrate the global initiative’s intent – which is sustainability based on infusing age-friendly principles and thinking in programs, services, and policies throughout a community.
Over the past decade, the global movement continues to evolve and advance age-friendly efforts throughout the world. Though an age-friendly society is innately beneficial to all people aging in communities, evaluative efforts are sometimes elusive to demonstrate change – particularly over the short term.
The WHO team really appreciated Age-Friendly Sarasota's efforts that combined both theoretical framing (of age-friendly behavior change based on knowledge) and the leveraging of communication assets (via strategic traditional and social media modalities) that focus on increased education or awareness of age-friendly principles or practices. Consequently, AFS is pleased to share our approach with other communities throughout the world.