Gatherings, events and activities help a city, town or neighborhood become a community. That's why AARP Community Challenge grants can and have been be used to fund fun! (Click on the image to "visit" the community.)
On March 13, 2020, the Delaware Children's Museum closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Grandparents Day on September 13, the museum's grandparent members and the “Grand at Heart” (those who serve in the role but aren't officially grandparents) were invited to pick up a “You’re Grand” activity bag at the museum's drive-thru. An additional 100 bags were distributed at a local community center. The family pictured in the giant log appeared on the event's announcement. The other pictured family posed with the activity bag goodies (pictured bottom left).
AARP Community Challenge funds helped to enhance the look and brand of Woodruff Park's free games kiosk, or "Game Cart," operated by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District. Design students at Georgia State University developed the new identity. The decorative and equipment upgrades (art supplies are now among the offerings) helped demonstrate that investments are being made in the area's public spaces.
Outdoor chess and checkers tables were constructed by students at the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center. Two tables and a spectator bench were installed at a new plaza on Elm Street, the other table and bench was placed in front of a nonprofit assisted living home. Game sets can be borrowed from local businesses and the library.
Among the goals of the "Go, Go, Go: Making Our Community More Livable" project was to enable residents to build friendships — "Go outdoors. Go be creative. Go make friends" — in a linguistically and culturally accessible way. (One out of five Chinatown residents is an older adult and nearly 90 percent of those individuals have limited English proficiency.) More than 150 people ranging in age from 3 to 87 participated. Local artists served as instructors for the weekly painting classes.
This coastal community has seven miles of sandy beaches. Until recently, there was no beach access for people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. That changed thanks to the purchase and installation of three ADA-compliant beach mats. The AARP Community Challenge grant became a catalyst for a donation from the local Rotary Club to purchase a beach wheelchair (pictured) and beach walker. Lifeguards manage and loan out the accessability equipment. Watch a video showing the mats in use.
The 2020 "Katahdin Snowdown," named after nearby Mount Katahdin, was the first event hosted by the Age Friendly Millinocket committee. The outdoor event provided residents with an intergenerational social and recreational outing during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Long Acre Trail was dotted with storyboards for StoryWalk, an activity in which hikers can read a story while advancing along the trail. Watch a video of the event.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The weekly La Familia Growers Market in the Dolores Huerta Gateway Park provides South Valley residents with access to locally grown produce and other products. In October 2018, more than 500 people attended the one-day La Familia Growers Market Harvest Festival, where the activities included cooking lessons, food stands, face painting, arts-n-crafts, vendors and free musical and dance performances.
To safely bring the community together during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Lakewood asked artists and entertainers to create outdoor activities for children as well as residents of a senior living compound. Among the attractions was "Project Joy Bomb," an event during which the performers (including the pictured bubble artist) meandered along the ArtLine, a four-mile walking and biking route located in the city's arts district. More than 400 people lined the streets to engage. Hundreds of others watched from their vehicles or home porches and balconies.
Derry, New Hampshire
To encourage community bonding and intergenerational connections, the Marion Gerrish Community Center created a space for people to have fun outdoors while playing games. An area was leveled to make the location accessible and safe. The center created weekly times for older adults to play cornhole (pictured) and bocce. The players hiding behind star masks are engaged in a game of outdoor Farkel. Other lawn games, available every day duing the spring and summer, include Connect Four, "Yardzee" and Giant Jenga.
The large concrete plaza near the Van Ness Metro Station was barren and lifeless. Calling themselves the "Van Ness Social Club," a group of residents and local organizations got together to plan some fun, which included creating an invitation that read, in part: "Get to know your neighbors at a good old fashioned social. We'll meet each other on the plaza ... and learn some dance steps ... drink tea, eat cake, play games ... and have conversations with each other." After the "plaza party," the newly acquainted neighbors were filled with ideas for future gatherings: a community potluck, a clothing swap meet, relay races, birthday parties, game nights, pizza nights, a Halloween party.
Page published February 2022 | text by Melissa Stanton and Lisa VanBuskirk
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