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Arizona Science Center

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photo_credit_phoenix_new_times photo credit Phoenix New Times

The Arizona Science Center has long engaged adult volunteers age 50+ as docents, and in

other conventional volunteer roles, but only recently the Center began to tap volunteers’ science and technology skills to enhance its programs. Jan Stonebraker, the Science Center volunteer coordinator of four years, entered the position as the Center launched a large travelling exhibition titled Body Worlds 3, an exploration of biology and anatomy.

Stonebraker identified knowledgeable volunteers to help staff the exhibition. At around the same time, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust funded a leadership grant program, through the National Council on Aging (NCOA), to engage adult volunteers age 50+ in leadership roles. The Science Center development staff and Stonebraker designed a program that would qualify for a grant. Stonebraker found that many volunteers were retired mechanical and electrical engineers, information technology specialists, and science teachers who wanted to help the Center. It made eminent sense to use their skills to enhance educational programs.

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ASU Gammage

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Housed in a stunning building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, ASU Gammage at Arizona State University, one of the largest university-based theaters in the world, has been broadening its audience for many years. Its outreach extends to both immigrant and older adult audiences. Widely recognized for its work in Phoenix, ASU Gammage’s commitment becomes evident in the role played by one of its staff members: Michael Reed, the senior director of Cultural Participation and Programming, is responsible for developing and overseeing an astonishing array of performances, including explorations of theater arts for all ages, and programs highlighting the arts of various cultures.

The commitment to accommodating older adults, for example, was demonstrated while The Phantom of the Opera was at the theater for a four-week run. To better suit the preferences of older adult audiences, some performances were scheduled as matinees. Reed also explains that the house staff is very experienced in working with older adults and those who are frail or have disabilities. The staff works with ARTability, an Arizona organization that promotes accessibility to the arts for those with disabilities. Before each season begins, the staff reviews issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), though Frank Lloyd Wright’s design, while handsome, has made retrofitting ASU Gammage to meet the requirements of the ADA, and other evolving audience needs, quite difficult.

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Livable Communities for All Ages Brochure

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"Livable Communities for All Ages" is a thoughtful brochurelivcommbroch that reflects years of expertise and findings, as well as resources and case studies, on how all facets of the community can contribute to a more “older adult –friendly” environment. Download here

With the goal of promoting safer and affordable communities, "Livable Communities for All Ages" features a specific guide on which aspects of civic life—whether the local Chamber of Commerce or an individual— can respond to the maturing of America with instructive measures on the benefits of older adult livability adaptations in four areas:
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Aging 2020: Arizona’s Plan for an Aging Population

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A comprehensive state effort to prepare Arizona for its aging population.

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City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place

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City Leaders Institute

City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place Logo

America is aging. Today roughly 37 million Americans age 65 and older represent slightly more than 12 percent of the country’s total population. By the year 2030 the number of Americans in this age group will nearly double, accounting for one-fifth of the population—almost all of these people will grow old in their own homes. Communities will face unprecedented challenges to providing the services and infrastructure that this population will demand. Yet, if communities are resourceful, innovative and prudent, these challenges will be eclipsed by the enormous share of social, political and human capital that will be made available by embracing the older adult population.

The MetLife Foundation has funded Partners for Livable Communities to implement the MetLife City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place. This timely initiative is inspired by the successful Mayors' Institute on City Design that has helped prepare more than 800 mayors to understand and put into practice the components of urban design over the past two decades. The City Leaders Institute has adapted a process to focus on the assets, needs and attributes of the over 65 population and consider what this means for local jurisdictions. This is accomplished by working with local leaders to establish a local Aging in Place goa, engaging a broad array of civic players around the goal, and raising awareness among everyone of the importance of embracing the growing older population.

Ten communities have been selected by Partners and MetLife Foundation to participate in the second year of the program. All are involved in a variety of innovative projects that have potential for being models for others.

Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria will create a stakeholder group to roll out a replicable, area-by-area approach to creating viable, safe access for pedestrians, with particular emphasis on the older individual and the individual living with disabilities. This “Complete Streets” initiative goes well beyond transportation- it involves looking at aging in place on the whole, recognizing that access to places for seniors results in living healthier, longer, and with dignity.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville will engage the 50 and older population to determine what makes aging well in Asheville possible. As a result of the assessment, which will be distributed as a survey, Asheville will then create a model for aging in place that goes well beyond transportation, but certainly includes it.

Chicago, Illinois

The City of Chicago will create and implement the first phase of a volunteer drive effort to provide seniors, as well as people who are blind or visually impaired between the ages of 18-64, access to medical treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy. As the program takes shape, it will expand to include other types of trips.

Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri

Kansas City will engage the senior and youth populations in an intergenerational recorded history program, whereby stories of older adults and histories of neighbourhoods will be recorded, preserved, and utilized for the good of the community. Anticipated outcomes include older adults achieving a sense of purpose, and being considered valued assets within the community at-large.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville will bring the city’s “Complete Streets” policy from concept to action. In the next 12 months the city will engage in a three-pronged effort of engaging, raising awareness, and celebrating successes. This will specifically involve: creating a Photo Voice initiative with older adults, where barriers to access will be identified and documented; identifying and executing at least two (one urban, one suburban) publically visible demonstration projects that respond to such barriers; and sharing these findings through a high-profile, community-wide celebration.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis will address the needs of older adults in the region whose homes are not currently suited for aging in place. Through the formation of a public-private partnership, the team will: identify viable funding and volunteer sources, develop a set of criteria for determining necessary home modifications, and create an implementation plan for a kickoff event in March 2014. The Memphis team will develop a centralized system that determines the home modification needs of older adults, directs them to these services, and provides funding for those who cannot afford to make such changes themselves.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City will develop a process to insure that four senior centers set to be constructed in the city will be as inclusive, accessible, and encouraging of quality aging in place for the older individual, as possible. The process will involve asset mapping, utilizing universal design concepts, and incorporating lifelong learning, arts and culture, and health and wellness into the programmatic offerings of the centers.

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix will offer site-specific instruction to assist older adults in accessing reliable transportation options that enhance their capacity to age in place. Some critical steps along the way will include the creation and distribution of “origin and destination” surveys, investigating transit plans to restructure paratransit, researching and developing metrics for cost-benefit analysis of free travel for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as identifying the specific steps and processes required by each pilot program.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City will utilize the opportunities provided by the creation of the Utah Performing Arts Center and branding of the “Cultural Core” to insure that the spaces and associated programs enrich the lives of older adults. Salt Lake City will also assist arts groups in discovering new audiences by way of the senior population. Structural concepts of universal design and ADA compliance will be factored into the creation of the center, as will programmatic concepts that are inclusive of the diverse population of Salt Lake City.

San Diego, California

San Diego will engage their senior, disabled, and veteran populations in the process of developing a one-stop shop of seamless, intuitive, inviting technology for the older individual to access transportation and other community-wide information. The system, named “OSCAR” (One Stop Community Access Resource), will come to fruition once the following has taken place: needs assessment conducted; design and functionality of system articulated; engagement plan developed; prototype testing done; and data from assessments and testing synthesized.

For more information on the City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place, please contact Vince Slevin at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 202-887-5990 x103.

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