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Livable, Healthy Communities: Goal of AARP Planning Event


Tuesday, January 17, 2023   

AARP Maine will sponsor an online workshop this week on long-range planning for health equity, with a focus on housing, community services and safe streets to ensure everyone has a say in the future design of their cities and towns.

Compared to other states, Maine has the oldest population per capita in the U.S., and tens of thousands of Mainers are expected to retire in the coming years.

Erik Calloway, managing director of ChangeLab Solutions, the group moderating the discussion, said planning for how older Mainers can safely interact with public spaces can have a positive impact on their overall health.

"Not only does it take a village to build a village, but it also takes contributions from everyone in that village to make sure that the village that you build meets the needs of everybody," Calloway contended.

Calloway explained organizers want input on things like crosswalks, signage, park benches and wheelchair accessibility. The online workshop takes place tomorrow from 1-3 p.m. and participants can register through the AARP Maine website.

Studies show where people live plays a crucial role in their overall health. Wheelchair accessible parks, for example, allow people with mobility issues to connect in public spaces, while safe street planning encourages more children to walk to school.

Calloway emphasized it is important for planning to be inclusive, and for elected officials to learn about the specific needs for services and infrastructure in neighborhoods which may not look like their own.

"In order for local government staff, elected officials, to really understand those experiences and know what's best for the residents of those neighborhoods, they really need to be participating in the conversations," Calloway asserted.

Calloway added by increasing the diversity of voices in the planning process, opportunities increase for everyone to be their healthiest self.

Disclosure: AARP Maine contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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