Evanston is on its way to becoming a more age-friendly city. I would like to provide a brief update to where Evanston is in the process of continuing to make the community a good place to grow up and grow old.

The City of Evanston joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and, most recently, the Lifetime Communities Collaborative. As a member of these groups, Evanston is part of global, national and regional movements of communities that are striving to create urban environments that foster healthy and active aging and the well-being of older people.

Residents, former residents and professionals employed in Evanston are working hard on this initiative.  Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl has built a team to serve as the Age Friendly Evanston Task Force. Task force members and their individual committees are analyzing the physical environment in the community and studying what affects our mental and social well-being, as well as community services and health services. 

This analysis has been conducted through simple fundamental conversations, surveys, focus groups with residents, and roundtable discussions with professionals. I am happy to report that the data collected thus far demonstrates people like to live in Evanston. The feedback indicates it’s a nice place to live; people want to stay here and age gracefully.  It is our hope that this plan will help them do just that.

The committees of the task force have developed proposals to contribute to an overall action plan. These proposals are being finalized to make recommendations for submission to the Evanston City Council in June 2016. The final report will be submitted to AARP and then WHO by December 2016.  Evanston will then transition from the data collection phase to the implementation and evaluation phase. That’s when the real work will begin.

Feedback from the community regarding the action plan is always welcome. I encourage you to voice your opinion and attend the task force meetings held at the Levy Senior Center on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m.

For several years, I have been working on this initiative.  As announced a few weeks ago, I have accepted the executive director position with the Prospect Heights Park District. As Evanston’s Sustainability Coordinator, Catherine Hurley is responsible for the environment and social well-being of our residents. Because age friendliness fits nicely in the realm of sustainability, Catherine will now assume my duties related to Age Friendly Evanston. I am confident that this will be a seamless transition, as Catherine has a long-term perspective – one that’s focused on both the present and future of Evanston, which includes age-friendliness.

I thank you for your past support and encourage you to continue working together to ensure Evanston is a good place to grow up and grow old. For more information contact Catherine Hurley, 847-448-8069 or aging @cityofevanston.org.

Ms. Ferraro is the former assistant director of Community Services for the City of Evanston.