Like most Americans, I am looking forward to the summer and the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. As we approach our first summer since the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, towns and cities across the nation are also bouncing back, focusing even more on the well-being of their people. With AARP’s long-standing support for livable communities, we have created several exciting ways to help.
First, this month, AARP’s state offices will announce the recipients of the 2023 AARP Community Challenge grants. These grants provide funding for quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. We are providing money for efforts to improve public spaces, transportation, housing, civic engagement, diversity and inclusion, and more. In its seventh year, the program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places for all residents, especially those age 50 and older.
Since 2017, AARP has awarded more than $12.7 million to over 1,060 projects through the Community Challenge to nonprofit organizations and government entities across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These initiatives range from the creation of a unique outdoor music park in Avoca, Iowa, to the provision of Wi-Fi-enabled tablets and digital literacy training to older public housing residents in Jersey City, New Jersey. This program has demonstrated that by supporting local leaders and organizations as they work to strengthen their communities, we can improve the quality of life for the very young, the very old and everyone in between.
A second exciting way AARP is helping communities enhance the health and well-being of their residents is through our community fitness initiative.
In 2019, as part of AARP’s 60th anniversary celebration, we partnered with the nonprofit FitLot and committed to building AARP-sponsored outdoor fitness parks in every state. Each park is equipped with easy-to-use machines and stations built for people across the fitness and mobility spectrum. The parks are free and open to the public, and locals can sign up for guided classes to make full use of the equipment.
These fitness parks are a tangible example of AARP’s commitment to local communities and healthy aging. The outdoor exercise equipment encourages people of all ages to get out of the house, meet others and stay fit.