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Collegeville Mayor’s Report and Update

Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, D.Min

I am pleased to participate in the 422 Coalition on Aging.  This coalition intends to help make the greater Collegeville and Royersford region an age-friendly community.   Our vision is a region where everyone enjoys their later years, remains independent and in their community for as long as possible by creating supportive environments and thriving neighborhoods for our older adults and those that care for them.

According to the AARP 

  • The population of the United States is rapidly aging.
  • By 2030, one of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older.
  • By 2035, the number of adults older than 65 will be greater than the number of children under 18.

As Collegeville Mayor, I am serving with other elected officials, partner organizations, and local leaders to guide our communities through the age-friendly network’s assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. People of all ages benefit from the adoption of policies and programs that make neighborhoods walkable, feature transportation options, enable access to key services, provide opportunities to participate in community activities, and support housing that’s affordable and adaptable. 

Well-designed, age-friendly communities foster economic growth and make for happier, healthier residents of all ages.

The following are notes from our January 12th Kick-Off Meeting held in the Commons at Ursinus College. Included is also the Framework for a series of February meetings:

422 Coalition on Aging: January 12 Kick-off Meeting Notes & Framework for the February Noon Zoom Meetings

Focus #1: Communication and Information: 

We envision a region in which older adults are more informed about and engaged in community programs, services, activities, employment, and volunteer opportunities.

Why this is important: Communication is critical to keeping our residents informed and engaged.  The Collegeville and Royersford region is rich in programs, services, activities, and volunteer opportunities, but if communication is not as strong as it needs to be, the result is a lack of knowledge and participation – not what the 422 Coalition on Aging is working to achieve. While the region has many existing channels for distributing information, greater use of technology, identifying untapped communication channels, and making access to information clearer and easier will benefit the region’s older adults. 

What We Have Now
– Mailers, quarterly, email
– Library – only Royersford
– Office of Aging
– Chambers: SF and PU
– Collegeville – Trappe Ministerium
– Concerts in the Park
– Churches/Synagogues

What We’d Like to See
– Tech education *
– Language barriers (eliminate)
– Resource centers ****
– Monthly community calendar (ex. Supermarkets, Dollar Store, PJP, YMCA, Church, beauty parlor, garages)
– Local television ads easier for access to seniors show more local info
– Digital signs with information like Royersford’s by Giant **

Discuss and determine Strategies, Outputs, Outcomes, Accountability and Event(s) to support focus at February 2, Noon Zoom Meeting.  

Focus #2 Outdoor Spaces and Inclusive Buildings: 

We envision a region in which public spaces and the built environments support the engagement, safety, health, and wellness of our older adults.

Why is this important: For the safety of our residents and visitors alike, the Region’s sidewalks, crosswalks, and stairways must be safe and accessible for all – pedestrians, cyclists, those in wheelchairs, electric carts, and strollers. The Region’s parks should be welcoming, safe, and equipped to promote fun, health, and fitness for older adults.  Additionally, public buildings should be a welcoming environment for older adults to shop, dine and patronize. 

What We Have Now
-Walking trails
– Limerick’s Manderach Park with exercise stations bench
– Spring Valley YMCA
– SRT – County trails
– Senior Center Phoenixville
– Sculpture Tour
– Anderson Farm Park (trails, indoor/outdoor space, pavilion)

What We’d Like to See
– Sidewalks – access to and location of benches along trails (handicap friendly) *****
– Safety Lighting, call boxes, patrol. **
– Public access to a pool **
– Center for Seniors *
– College to open up to senior access *
– Traffic light timing *
– Senior shuttle ****
– In Trappe sports plex (bocca ball, cornhole, classes)
– Better signage
– Chess tournaments
– Use Limerick Township building and Coventry Mall

Discuss and determine Strategies, Outputs, Outcomes, Accountability and Event(s) to support focus at February 9, Noon Zoom Meeting.  

Focus #3: Social Participation/Respect and Social Isolation

We envision a region in which older adults are encouraged and welcomed to participate in community activities, treated with respect, and accommodated as needed in public, educational and commercial settings. 

Why is this important: One of the most jarring aspects of aging is the tendency to feel less visible as previously well-defined professional and family roles slip away even as new roles begin to emerge. Further, changes in relationships, i.e. becoming widowed or divorced, as well as physical and cognitive status can lead to increased isolation and can have a further negative impact on health status. These trends are more pronounced among low-income seniors, for whom deteriorating physical health can compound existing issues like inadequate housing and limited transportation.  The success of existing programs and organizations that engage and encourage our region’s older adults to use their vast array of talent and skills can be enhanced and expanded to inform and involve an even greater number of aging adults. 

What We Have Now
– YMCA – Spring Valley and Phx
– Library – Royersford
– Churches
– Senior centers Pottstown and Phx
– Chambers – SF and PV communication

What We’d Like to See
– Engaging faith-based organizations to keep in touch with their flock as they age **
– Support group
– Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
– Returnship – benefiting from senior interaction
– Access to educational programs/specific topics of interest. (ex. Health education, support groups, adopt a grandparent, volunteer to host events for free) ***
– Craft groups *

Discuss and determine Strategies, Outputs, Outcomes, Accountability and Event(s) to support focus at February 16, Noon Zoom Meeting.  

Focus #4: Transportation 

We envision a region in which older adults have access to the transportation they need. 

Why is this important: Older adults who no longer drive, or prefer not to, need a way to attend to errands and appointments as well as continue their social lives and connect to existing public transportation. This transportation gap was top priority identified by residents who participated in the 422 Coalition on Aging community assessment survey as well as citizens who attended the initial kick-off meeting in January. 

What We Have Now
– Uber (not senior-friendly)
– TransNet (not senior-friendly)
– Seniors helping Seniors (but again technology)
– Septa Bus
– Senior care companies

What We’d Like to See
– Interconnecting sidewalks/centralized plan **
– Senior crossing areas “school zone”
– Easier phone access to schedule items such as Uber, Transportations, and Seniors helping Seniors **
– Senior trans hotline * Look into Call a Ride for Seniors (CARS)
– Senior-friendly vehicles *
– Bus stations senior-friendly
– Bus stop in front of the Landing and other Senior Communities and Centers *

Discuss and determine Strategies, Outputs, Outcomes, Accountability and Event(s) to support focus at February 23, Noon Zoom Meeting.  

Borough council meets the 1st Wednesday of each month.

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