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Miami-Dade and Monroe County Organizations Receive Grants to 'JumpStart the Conversation'
Date:3/6/2009

MIAMI, March 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Eight projects in the Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties were awarded "JumpStart the Conversation" grants for projects focused on addressing transportation and mobility options for seniors as an avenue to creating livable communities for all. The winning projects were chosen based on their innovation and potential for enhancing Miami-Dade and Monroe counties' "Aging in Place" services.

The grants were the result of a November 17 workshop in Miami, Fla., which was the latest in a series of regional workshops focused on creating livable communities for all ages. The workshops and grants are part of the national Aging in Place Initiative pioneered by Partners for Livable Communities (PLC) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), and funded by MetLife Foundation. The workshop was hosted by the Alliance for Aging at the Miami-Dade County Commission Chambers.

"The diversity of organizations partnering to improve livability for all ages is a good indicator of community-wide support for this initiative for years to come," said Robert McNulty, president of Partners for Livable Communities. "This first wave of partnerships in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties will stimulate innovative action at the local level and also serve as a national model for Aging in Place."

One recipient, the Miami Behavioral Health Center, is implementing a program to encourage independence through individualized "Mobility Maps." Each senior will create their own blueprint that maps out personalized transportation options and destinations. To help promote this innovation, the Miami Behavioral Health Center will also hold training sessions to inform other organizations of how to teach the "Mobility Maps" approach to senior transportation.

Julio Ruiz, Program Director of Elderly Services at the Miami Behavioral Health Center, feels "if every one of our elders is able to create and use his or her own Mobility Map, not only will seniors be using the available resources of the community to the max, they will also be engaged in an exciting journey to recuperate most of the freedom to choose they have lost and fulfill wishes they may have forgotten."

Another partnership, the Alliance for Aging in conjunction with the Miami Lakes Town Foundation, Inc., will use the grant to host a series of forums aimed at evaluating the accessibility of current transportation systems. Potentially, these discussions will lead to creative solutions to current barriers that impede seniors' ability to navigate the Miami-Dade area easily. The forums will occur four times over a four month period. Max Rothman, President of the Alliance for Aging, is particularly hopeful about the outcomes of the conversations.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to plan with our partners around issues of transportation and mobility options," says Rothman. "These are critical issues for elders and their families. We look forward to laying the foundation for creating new opportunities in Miami-Dade County."

In a city with a rapidly increasing population of non-English speakers, the William Lehman Injury Research Center is using its grant to expand upon its current safe crossings program. The program is designed to help address the disproportionate number of elderly pedestrian injuries in Miami-Dade County. The research center will be translating education and promotional materials into both Spanish and Creole in an effort to cross the language barrier and reach more Miami area seniors.

The remaining five organizations include:

  • The North County Citizens Association, which will introduce a pickup service, with the purpose of allowing older adults without access to transportation the ability to conduct necessary tasks such as doctor's appointments and trips to the grocery store.
  • The City of Coral Gables in partnership with The Alliance for Aging, which will implement a pilot program of subsidized taxicab fares for people ages 65 and over.
  • The Alliance for Aging, which will engage local and national experts on issues of senior transportation access in Miami-Dade, and to incorporate these issues into the county's master transportation plan.
  • Monroe County in partnership with The Alliance for Aging to investigate offering a solution to inefficient transportation (especially for older adults and pedestrians) between Monroe County and the Florida Keys.
  • The Miami Lighthouse for the Blind in partnership with The Alliance for Aging to explore and implement a community-based independent transportation network in Miami-Dade County.

For additional details on the winning projects visit www.aginginplaceinitiative.org. A comprehensive report on the Miami Workshop: Transportation and Mobility Options: Developing Livable Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties for All Ages, will be available for download in the coming weeks.

Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) is a national, nonprofit organization working to renew communities for all ages. For more information on the other workshops planned in the national series, visit www.aginginplaceinitiative.org, or contact Kendall Alexander at kalexander@livable.com .

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is a leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging across the country. For additional information, visit www.n4a.org.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife for the purpose of supporting education, health, civic and cultural organizations. For additional information, visit www.metlife.org.

    CONTACTS:
    Partners: Kendall Alexander (202) 887 5990 x105, kalexander@livable.com
    MetLife Foundation: Sarah Faria (401) 827 3906, sfaria@metlife.com


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SOURCE MetLife Foundation
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