BY DANA PATTERSON —The City of Hyattsville has joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities to become a liveable community that promotes services for all residents with diverse needs. At the June 5 city council meeting, Community Director Jake Rollow gave an update on the status of making the community more age-friendly.
After city council passed the resolution in January 2016 to apply and sent a letter of support to become one of the AARP age-friendly communities, city staff moved forward to formally join the network.
A couple of months ago, the city was admitted into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, Rollow said. “It is a great thing, since it will give more support to the city to become an age-friendly community,” he added.
According to the AARP, membership means that the “community’s elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city or county a great place for people of all ages.” Members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities become part of a global network of communities that are committed to giving their older residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives
City Administrator Tracey Nicholson said joining the AARP network gives a sense of support for the community’s residents. Hyattsville is now the 141st community — and the first city in Maryland — to be accepted into the network. There is an emphasis to be accessible for everyone, and to achieve that is to “make it easier to get around with a wheelchair [and] also a stroller,” said Rollow.
Although joining AARP isn’t an endorsement, membership offers housing and transportation options, social engagement, and access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities, Nicholson said.
Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP) board member Molly Parrish said she and everyone at HAP are pleased about this partnership. “I think it is great that we are becoming an age-friendly community because the network is inclusive, not for just seniors but for everyone.”
Last year’s findings from the Senior and Disability Services Survey assisted as part of the process to join the network. The survey was used to gather information on residents’ comfort in the community. Also, the city’s sustainability plan helped with recommendations on how to improve and diversify the community at large, said Nicholson.
For the next two years, a community-driven action plan will be set in motion to assess community needs. City staff are kicking off the plan with a luncheon on July 18. Nicholson said city staff and herself are excited and want to continue to do more to help seniors, as well as all residents.
The city currently has services such as Call-A-Bus grocery trips, the Ageless Grace exercise program, summer arts camps and a Good Neighbor program to help seniors.
Rollow said the goal of the luncheon is to bring together service providers, government agencies, nonprofits and residents to talk through the findings found by Department of Community Services and Recreation, including the results of the Senior and Disability Services Survey and sustainability plan.
The luncheon will serve as an outlet for those who are and are not aware of the network project. It will also allow attendees to help fill in any gaps in services provided or other community needs that staff may have overlooked.
The city hopes the overall outcome of this luncheon is a strengthened community interest coming from both private residents and partnered service providers.
For more information, contact Senior and Disability Services Coordinator Beryl Johnson at 301.985.5058.
Dana Patterson is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times. She is a resident of Hyattsville and a rising junior at Pennsylvania State University.