Age Friendly Communities

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Chicanos Por La Causa hosted the “Age Friendly Communities Conference” promoting action plans advancing age friendly practices. Frank Gallardo, Vice President of Chicano Por La Causa Family Empowerment Services and Head of the Age Friendly Communities Project, talks about what cities are doing to make their communities more friendly for seniors.

Chicanos Por La Causa

Jose Cardenas: This week, Chicanos Por La Causa hosted the age-friendly communities conference to promote action plans, advancing age-friendly practices. Joining me to talk about the conference is Frank Gallardo the vice-president of the family empowerment services and head of the age-friendly communities project. Frank, tell us quickly what the project is about and we'll talk some more about the specifics of the conference.

Frank Gallardo: The project is an international effort under the world health organization where funding through the foundation has brought together five partner organizations across the country. They're advancing and moving forward age-friendly principles within our own community. These are grassroots efforts.

Jose Cardenas: What would they be?

Frank Gallardo: For instance, easy access to transportation may be one of them, social participation and engagement would be another example of that.

Jose Cardenas: And the partners that you're conferring with as I understand this was a small gathering in Phoenix. These are people you've worked with in the past and they're here to compare notes. What cities are they?

Frank Gallardo: We have four partner organizations, two are from New York, one is the Brownsville Project, the other is called the Abyssinian Corporation. We have the Resurrection Project out of Chicago and another out of California, East Asian Local Corporation.

Jose Cardenas: Those cities and the communities you described are so different than what most people would find in Phoenix. How can their experiences be of help to us?

Frank Gallardo: Each one of us in this partnership, we are each working on an initiative that's grassroots within our own specific community and so it's a peer learning approach that we're taking. Every six to eight months, five partner organizations are meeting and discussing and sharing best practices across each other in terms of what's working and what hasn't and lessons learned within our own specific community.

Jose Cardenas: And does each conference have a particular focus? Like this, what did you talk about at this one?

Frank Gallardo: It was two fold. One, it was it introducing the partner organizations to our own communities, our own areas where we're specifically working on our initiatives. The other thing to accomplish is really focused on the peer learning approach. It's the best practices, what we gathered from this particular conference is really a lot of lessons learned. As we came to find there's a lot of similarities and commonalities between the challenges and successes that each one of us is having. Often times we feel that we're the only ones experiencing these challenges as we're working with our aging population but we come to find there's similarities. We're learning across each other and assuring that approaches are changing as we're going along.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, one of the examples is not in this country, it's Dublin, Ireland, where they seem to have a better handle.

Frank Gallardo: Correct. About a year and a half ago, we had an opportunity, the five partner organizations are an age-friendly community USA partnership. And so we had an opportunity to go to Dublin, which was the first conference -- and it was focused around age-friendly communities, the international effort, we were able to meet with other organizations that are doing same or similar work.

Jose Cardenas: We have a picture of that conference there.

Frank Gallardo: Correct. That's it right there. So we were able to meet with other organizations on an international level that are doing same or similar work within their own specific communities at a grassroots level.

Jose Cardenas: We're we doing here in Phoenix?

Frank Gallardo: In our particular case, we're working within three senior living facilities where we've identified senior leaders within these facilities, we've got a pool of 10 senior leaders that at this point we're putting them through a senior leadership academy. Again, the approach is not for us to create an agenda for our seniors but through their own leadership efforts and the appropriate education in terms of making impact and change that our seniors at some point begin to create an agenda for themselves. The approach is grassroots and then eventually what we intend to do is to begin connecting to the surrounding communities, and then to much broader access in terms of what positions that go beyond their own smaller pockets of community.

Jose Cardenas: And what we're talking about is not other agencies providing specific assistance, like handlebars that people can hold. You're talking about them being able to go out and advocate on their own for issues that are important to them?

Frank Gallardo: Correct. A couple of examples that have already come up as a result as we've been talking to the seniors within the facilities is that in one example, a senior living facility located off of 16th street, that senior living facility doesn't have any public transportations that coming into that senior living complex. And so our seniors who are no longer driving, don't have means of transportation, don't have public access to be able to get to and from either the grocery store or to be able to access other social engagement opportunities across another senior center that's about three or four miles away from where they live, that's one issue that I think the seniors can begin to tackle in terms of looking at a means of transportation for them. So they're not isolated to just their pocket communities but rather they're able to gain access and go beyond just their community to the surrounding community.

Jose Cardenas: Now, Frank I understand this is in its infancy so we'll have you back down the road to talk about progress that's being made, thank you so much.

Frank Gallardo: Thank you so much for having me.

Jose Cardenas: And that's our show for tonight. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas, have a good evening.

Frank Gallardo:Vice President, Chicano Por La Causa Family Empowerment Services;

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