City officials have started the process of applying through an AARP program that would officially designate Winters as an “age friendly” community.
On Tuesday, city officials held a town hall meeting to discuss its application with the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities, an affiliate of a similarly-named program operated by the World Health Organization.
Acceptance into the program would come with several benefits, including public recognition of the city’s status as an age-friendly community and opportunities to partner with other cities of like status.
“The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities encourages states, cities, towns and counties to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults,” the city said in a press release. “By doing so, these communities are better equipped to become great places, and even lifelong homes, for people of all ages.”
To be designated, AARP officials consider a number of factors, including the local government’s willingness to improve transportation, health and security conditions with a specific focus on aging community members. Some of those improvements include access to bike and pedestrian paths, easing road traffic and improving infrastructure.
If selected, Winters would join more than 20 communities in Californiaalready recognized as age-friendly communities. It would be the second city in Yolo County to be designated; West Sacramento was awarded official recognition by AARP in 2016. Other age-friendly communities include Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the County of San Diego.
Designation would also come with recognition by the World Health Organization, which would list Winters in a database of cities around the world that are also considered to be age-friendly communities.
Sheila Allen, a consultant with Yolo County, said city residents have already identified a number of concerns that could be improved through participation in the age-friendly communities program. Those areas include greater and safer access to local grocery stores, improved public transit and the development of new adult-friendly recreational and learning programs like yoga classes and computer skills training. Allen noted that the benefits will be felt by everyone, not just senior residents.
“The first official step [toward enrollment in the program] is for the mayor to send a letter to AARP,” Allen said in an interview on Monday. That process is still two weeks away from happening, but city leaders have already expressed interest in joining the program.
“They already had a previous meeting and receive a presentation with AARP,” Allen said. “They said they’re interested, and that first step is to send the letter.”