Grand Island is the first city in the state to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
Grow Grand Island, Inc., a non-profit organization leading the city’s age-friendly initiative, submitted the application to join the network. By doing so, community leaders have made the commitment to actively work toward making their city a great place for people of all ages – whether they are age eight or 80.
“Grand Island is pleased to be part of AARP’s Livable Communities Network,” said Tonja Brown, chair of Grow Grand Island. “We see this as a tremendous avenue to continuously improve our community.”
Age-friendly/livable communities adopt such features as safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities and be socially engaged.
Next steps toward seeking an age-friendly designation for Grand Island include creating a task force to focus on livability issues, listening sessions with residents and implementation of a three-year Grand Island Age-Friendly/Livable Community Action Plan.
“By partnering with AARP, Grand Island will have sound guidance and support as we pursue our plan,” Brown said. “The expertise available from AARP and other communities in the age-friendly network will help us be successful.”
AARP State Director Connie Benjamin said Grand Island is the “perfect first Nebraska community” to be part of the national program.
“Grand Island has already done much work through transportation, housing and other surveys. It is a prime time to start putting the plan together to make sure they are growing in ways that support older residents,” she said. “Our hope is that Grand Island’s inclusion in the network will spark similar action by other Nebraska cities and towns.”
Grand Island’s 2017 estimated population is 51,390, with nearly 14 percent of residents age 65 and older.
Across the country, three states and 315 communities have joined the network. More than 75 million people – one of every five people in the U.S. - now live in a network community. The program is officially part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
To learn more about AARP’s age-friendly network and livable communities work, visit www.aarp.org/livable.