Thank you to guest blogger Kelley Macmillan, Sanford Center for Aging, at the University of Nevada, School of Medicine for preparing this post. This blog features highlights from their 2018 NADTC planning grant project that engaged older adults and people with disabilities in a dialogue to improve engagement in their community through innovative transportation options.
Speak Up and Be Heard Project Overview
The goal of the grant project was to enhance and develop innovative transportation and mobility options that support the engagement of older adults and people with disabilities in meaningful social and recreational activities throughout urban and rural settings in Washoe County, Nevada.
Sanford Center for Aging (SCA) staff engaged transportation agencies, older adults, people with disabilities and consumer stakeholders in the planning process and identified innovations for enhanced existing transportation resources and new transportation options. Findings from this project were intended to assist human service providers, transportation agencies, and community partners in their transportation planning efforts.
The Sanford Center for Aging (SCA) hosted a community-wide event called, “Speak Up and Be Heard,” on December 7, 2018, bringing together older adults and people with disabilities, human service, transportation, and community partners to discuss the following topic areas: (1) activities older adults and people with disabilities enjoyed doing outside of their home; (2) barriers to social engagement and activity; and (3) strategies to overcome these barriers.
More than 50 people contributed their thoughts and ideas, providing the project with insights about the activities older adults and people with disabilities enjoyed, the various barriers that existed that prevented them from engaging in these activities, and ideas that could reduce and/or eliminate the barriers. In addition to the community gathering, nearly 50 community members completed online and paper surveys to provide feedback on these topics. Steering Committee members also actively disseminated the survey within their networks along with participants in the SCA Volunteer Mobility Program.
Results from the survey and community gathering found older adults and people with disabilities enjoyed:
- Activities that are outside, recreational, and physical.
- Social activities and social engagement.
- Entertainment and art related activities.
Top barriers to engagement in activities outside the home identified by older adults and people with disabilities were:
- Timing (time of the event and transportation).
- Unfamiliarity with transportation options.
- Social, psychological, or emotional well-being.
- Distance of the event from individual’s home.
- Finding activity partners.
Sustainability and Future Activities
Findings from the community event and surveys will be shared with community partners through city and county meetings, Aging Advisory Committee meetings, and one-on-one meetings. Findings will also be shared at community events attended hosted at various senior centers and senior housing communities. The Sanford Center for Aging will continue to foster various partnerships, including their partnership with the Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI) by expanding the reach of the project to engage OLLI members.