University of South Florida Professor Kathy Black examines how communities can benefit by working together to help their age-friendly programs grow and become more successful in Theories of Community Collaboration to Advance Age-Friendly Community Change, published in the Sept. 16 issue of “The Gerontologist.”
Co-written by Emily A. Greenfield and Althea Pestine-Stevens, both of the Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work, and Patricia Oh of the University of Maine Center on Aging, the article explores how communities – members of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities – can work together to become more age-friendly.
Communities enrolled in the WHO network agree to enact policies and practices to help
their citizens live healthy, active and engaged lives across their lifespans. Some
of these might include removing physical barriers, improving mobility and adding programs
to allow for greater social interaction.
In their article, Black and the researchers demonstrate the value of drawing on theories of community collaboration to assist age-friendly community efforts across engagement, planning, implementation and measurement.
In particular, they focus on three theories – Asset-Based Community Development, Strategic Doing™, and Collective Impact – each with principles and strategies for guiding multi-sector group processes toward long-term and systematic community change.
“While the global model is well-intended to improve community life for people of all life stages and abilities, the model doesn’t dictate how communities can or should work together,” said Black, a professor of aging studies and social work on the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus. “My colleagues and I aimed to provide some guidance on multi-sector collaboration to guide implementation of the model.”
The researchers are experienced in age-friendly work on local, state and national
levels and used their insights, along with research and collaborative writing, to
produce the article for the journal’s special issue.
“It was a pleasure working with my colleagues on this paper,” Black said. “They are leading scholars and practitioners in the field, and we believe our contribution will advance the age-friendly work for communities as well as the broader movement.”