January 18, 2011 > Pathways to Positive Aging celebrates
Pathways to Positive Aging celebrates
Submitted By Asha Chandra
In 2004, the City of Fremont Human Services Department and Tri-City Elder Coalition received a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to develop and implement a five year community strategic plan to improve the quality of life for older adults. Little did we know then, that the "plan," known as Pathways to Positive Aging, would actually mobilize hundreds of volunteers; build strong community partnerships, and become a hub of activity involving every ethnic group representative from the area. Though these assumptions were part of the initial proposal, we could not have imagined that a village to care for older adults was surfacing as rapidly as it did. "If there's one nice place to grow old, it's Fremont," stated a Fremont resident with a smile.
The Pathways to Positive Aging initiative, through its six strategic goals, has implemented everything from building a strong board and advocacy group in partnership with the Tri-City Elder Coalition, to partnering with local hospitals and clinics to promote healthy aging, improving transportation and mobility services for seniors, promoting community engagement by supporting local ethnic and faith organizations, and implementing an intergenerational program.
"We engaged the community early on through a series of 14 focus groups in nine languages, and two large community dialogues," stated Suzanne Shenfil, Fremont's Human Services Director. "The success of this initiative is because the community not only voiced what they wanted to see improved, but became part of the solution in helping to make these changes," Following the community dialogues, staff worked to build relationships and trust with residents, which included visiting over 50 community, ethnic, and faith organizations in the Tri-City area of Fremont, Newark, and Union City, CA.
Over the course of the six years:
* Over 300 volunteers were mobilized to participate in various committees and workgroups.
* 138 Community Ambassadors from 10 community, ethnic, and faith organizations were trained to provide informational and referral services for seniors.
* 250 older adults and 500 6th graders participated in the intergenerational Senior Penpal Program that this past year created a book project that resulted in the publishing of a senior story.
* An adoption of an aging friendly policy by Fremont, Newark, and Union City Councils.
* A mobile mental health program was launched.
* New bus routes, travel training, and walking clubs were added.
* A Residential Care Facility for the Elderly care improvement initiative was launched.
* A multi-lingual senior helpline in four languages was implemented
* Over 10 local conferences and health fairs were held to serve older adults,
* 50+ articles on Pathways' initiatives appeared in local, national, and ethnic press,
* Over $400,000 was raised in additional funding from local sponsors and donors.
* And many more...
On November 16, 2010, a year end celebration brought together over 100 partners and the Pathways journey was re-lived. The large storybook and poem portrayed the success of this ambitious, yet most successful effort. As the poem goes...
Though the Robert Wood Johnson funding is complete,
our work is not done.
We have only just begun.
Stay out of the way,
we plan to create the best aging friendly community in the whole USA.
If you would like to find out more about Pathways to Positive Aging, please contact Asha Chandra, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Ray Grimm, email@example.com.