This year, the Older Americans Month theme is “Blaze a Trail.” The annual celebration, held each year in May, offers the opportunity to learn about, support, and celebrate our nation’s aging population. NADTC encourages all older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, and organizations that support accessible transportation to think about how you can blaze a trail in your community!
As communities across the nation are striving to help older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers stay healthy, stay connected, and age in place, transportation services literally become the vital link to achieving those goals. The availability of accessible transportation options is critical to enable people to live and thrive in their communities, counter isolation, and ensure a connection to needed services and supports, such as medical care, grocery stores and pharmacies.
Here are a few ways both organizations and individuals can celebrate the Older Americans Month “Blaze a Trail” theme and the sub-themes of civic engagement, wellness, and reinvention – all through transportation.
- Volunteer opportunities. In many communities across the United States, volunteer transportation is the only means of accessing medical care, grocery shopping, and other important services in areas where public transit is limited or does not exist. These programs and their amazing volunteers provide thousands of rides and opportunities for socialization every year.
- Inclusive Planning. There are many opportunities for citizens to express their thoughts and preferences throughout the development of a transportation project. Community meetings to discuss plans and projects offer older adults and others the chance to express their views. The participation of older adults and people with disabilities in the design and implementation of transportation systems can go a long way to ensuring that such critical services are responsive to their needs and preferences.
- New Adventures. Trying something new can be a challenge, but it also allows you to keep learning and growing. Take an art class, learn how to play an instrument or explore a new area of your city. And use this as an opportunity to try your city’s public transportation to travel there! Soon it may become a regularly visited destination. For first time riders, many public transportation systems offer travel training to help individuals learn how to read bus schedules, pay the fare, and become more comfortable riding the bus or train.