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WNY’s renaissance: For people of all ages?

Downtown Buffalo. Credit: Douglas Levere

Dozens of regional partners will meet on Feb. 25 to discuss how we can make Erie County a great place to live for everyone

Release Date: February 16, 2015

“We want to make sure our progress is measurable.”
Brittany Perez, senior research associate, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In the thick of a Western New York winter, how can we make sure that older adults have access to medication, meals and transportation?

And is a lack of help during times of inclement weather one reason people leave the region?

These are some of the questions that agencies across Erie County will discuss on Feb. 25 as they meet for the first time as part of the new Age Friendly Erie County initiative.

The initiative — organized by the Erie County Department of Senior Services, Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and AARP — aims to make Western New York a great place to live for people of all ages as the region undergoes a renaissance.

The Feb. 25 event — a needs assessment workshop — begins at 8:30 a.m. that day at the Amherst Senior Center at 370 John James Audubon Parkway. It will bring dozens of local agencies together to discuss the services aging residents and others need to live a rich and fulfilling life in all seasons.

Participants will include representatives of GObike Buffalo, Meals on Wheels for Western New York, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and many others. Amherst, Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Clarence, East Aurora and the Town of Aurora, Lancaster, Orchard Park and West Seneca will be represented, according to organizers.

“As we gain attention nationally as a great place to live, we want to ensure that the quality of life is high for everyone, from families with children to the baby boomers who make up a large proportion of our population,” said Randy Hoak, Erie County Commissioner of Senior Services.

The Feb. 25 workshop will identify needs in 10 areas:

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social Participation
  • Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Civic Participation and Employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Community Support and Health Services
  • Emergency Preparedness and Resilience
  • Research and Education

Age Friendly Erie County is part of the AARP’s push to create livable, well-designed communities nationwide through its AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

Features of such communities include safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community activities.

“What we learn from the workshop will help us create a community survey that we can use to measure how Erie County residents feel about different needs across different domains,” said Brittany Perez, a senior research associate at the UB IDeA Center.

“Later, as we start to create and implement solutions, we can send out that survey again over the next five years to see whether we’re making a difference,” Perez said. “We want to make sure our progress is measurable.”

She added that the project’s goal is not to “reinvent the wheel.”

“Instead, we want to give people who are already contributing to our goals a way to network, share resources and come up with creative solutions,” she said. “We are still recruiting participants and encourage people to sign up.”

To register: Visit http://www.udeworld.com/agefriendly/index.html.

For questions: Contact Brittany Perez, bperez4@buffalo.edu, 716-829-5921.

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