Making Grand Rapids an age-friendly place to live was the focus of a community conversation that drew about 100 thought leaders from the area on Feb. 16.
These dynamic leaders from nonprofit, business and government agencies shared their opinions and provided insight about how to make Grand Rapids great for all ages.
Jennifer Feuerstein-Muñoz, Associate State Director of AARP Michigan and Suzanne Schulz, Grand Rapids City Planner presented at the event, sharing the vision of the Age-Friendly Communities Network and how Grand Rapids is working toward becoming a certified age-friendly city.
The AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities partnered with the World Health Organization in 2012 to make communities livable no matter what a person’s age. The World Health Organization determined there are 8 domains to make a city age friendly. These include:
- Safe and affordable modes of private and public transportation.
- A wide range of housing options for older residents.
- Access to leisure and cultural activities for all ages.
- Programs to promote and support ethnic and cultural diversity.
- Promotion of and access to using technology to keep older residents connected to their community, friends and family.
- Access to home care services, clinics and programs to promote wellness and active aging.
- Availability of paid work and volunteer activities for older residents.
- Accessibility to and availability of safe recreational facilities.
Cities that want to become certified implement a 5-year plan to address and improve the community in each of these domains.
Community conversations, like the one in Grand Rapids, enable city planners to hear from the residents about the needs and aspirations of the community.
Grand Rapids leaders are building their master plan for 2017, which will include designing the city to become age-friendly. Community conversations will continue throughout 2016 and 2017 to allow people to have their voices to be heard.
Return to aarp.org/mi for more information about this effort.