Following a two-year research and planning process, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has launched the Age-Friendly Columbus Strategic Plan. In a press event at the Gateway Film Center on November 28, leaders of the project shared some of the first year’s priority actions as outlined in the plan. Speaking at the event, Mayor Andrew Ginther reiterated the City’s commitment to engaging with all of its departments to incorporate an aging lens into their work. “We want to ensure that our community’s older adults remain in their neighborhoods so that friends and neighbors can age in place in the dynamic, exciting neighborhoods that they have helped contribute so much to. That they can live independently and with access to services, amenities and opportunities for community engagement”, the Mayor said.
The strategic planning process, led by Planning NEXT, focused on planning with, not for, older adults in Columbus. Through multiple working group meetings and a public workshop, the planning team worked to ensure that the plan truly addressed the most urgent needs of Columbus’ older adult community. The project’s Co-Chair, Councilmember Michael Stinziano, highlighted the importance of this process: “I am truly honored to have taken part in what I believe has been a higher standard for community engagement…and I am confident that we are now all working together as we strive to become a truly Age-Friendly city. Together we will continue working with our older adults to honor and respect our history while we look forward to a future of innovation”.
The three-year Strategic Plan includes 17 strategies and 54 actions, and outlines a detailed implementation plan. Among others, the strategies include: “increase access to programs and information that allow older adults to age in community”; “promote intergenerational civic participation, cooperation and inclusion”; and “shift negative stereotypes around aging”. Each of the actions named in the plan will be led by a community organization to ensure accountability.
The wide range of partner organizations present at the event are testament to the level of buy-in this plan has already raised in the community. The event host, the Gateway Film Center, was also named as Columbus’ first Age-Friendly Business, launching the plan’s first strategy to “encourage Columbus businesses to become more Age-Friendly”.
Planning NEXT congratulates the Age-Friendly Columbus leadership for their initiative in taking on this important issue, which is only the beginning of making Columbus a leading Age-Friendly community.