Festival Spotlights Sarasota's Age-Friendly Attributes

Philanthropy

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY OCT 24, 2017

A new event this weekend aims to spotlight the region as a place where people of all ages can make the most of life, while advancing Sarasota’s reputation as a wonderful place to grow old. The Age-Friendly Festival, promoted as the first in the nation to celebrate “lifelong well-being,” brings more than 125 exhibits, performances and other demonstrations to the Sarasota Fairgrounds.

Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation, says the inaugural festival continues the “age-friendly” movement embraced by community leaders here for more than a decade. “We hope to show that what’s good for one generation actually is good for all generations,” she says.

For example, a region with widespread handicap access and wheelchair ramps provides a better environment to families pushing baby carriages and athletes nursing injuries, and the availability of family restrooms helps everyone from young mothers seeking a changing station for an infant to infirm seniors who need a companion to help them during a visit to facilities.

The festival will span the entire fairgrounds and include everything from personal balance tests to car safety checkpoints to adjust seat belts and mirrors. Whether patrons want to play a game of pickleball or jam with a local band, interactive exhibits will offer a sample of life on the Gulf Coast.

Patterson noted that Sarasota County in 2015 became the first in Florida to join the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The Patterson Foundation conceived and organized this festival in that spirit. The network today includes more than 500 jurisdictions worldwide.

Sarasota has explored ways to leverage the presence of an aging and retired population here since at least 2006, when SCOPE researched the possibilities presented in the aging field, and The Patterson Foundation, since its mission unveil in 2009, has funded further study on aging with dignity and independence.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Jacobs says. “It happens because we learn and explore the thought of being an age-friendly community.” The effort, officials hope, will lead to great ideas being imported around the world to help the region continue its achievements as a haven for active and aging adults.

The festival runs Saturday from 9am to 4pm and is free to attend.

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