Monday morning, La Crosse became the fifth city in Wisconsin to join AARP’s network of Age Friendly communities.
The network has grown from 15 communities to over 400 in the country.
Officials say an Age friendly Community is one where every citizen is valued.
“It’s a community that enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities and treats everyone with respect regardless of their age,” said WI State Director of AARP, Sam Wilson. “It is a place that makes it easy for older people to stay connected to people that are important to them and encourages an environment of healthy aging.”
The initiative was started last December when a survey was conducted asking La Crosse residents their thoughts on the city and its accessibility.
They found that 20 year olds mostly wanted the same as those in their 80’s.
“We want to stay here. We don’t want to have to move to live with someone else as we age,” said Sarah Wrobel, an AARP team leader. “We want to stay in our homes or in our community for as long as possible.”
The initiative is led by 16 local steering committee members and five AARP leaders.
Thriving Livable La Crosse leaders say the initiative is a way for city residents to voice their opinions and needs, even if they aren’t on the committee.
“We now have a chance to tell them what we think and to make a change within the next five years and getting a plan going for La Crosse,” Wrobel said.
AARP says communities that have already been in the Age Friendly Network have seen improvements in new private capital investment, planning processes for all city services, and methods to communicate with their own residents.
Mayor Kabat says there is one main goal with the new initiative.
“[We want] to better equip La Crosse to become a great place and a lifelong home for people of all ages with increased attention to the community’s needs in relation to environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well being of its citizens as they age,” said Mayor Tim Kabat.
Some of the factors the committee will be looking into is accessibility of transportation and housing in La Crosse for those of all ages.