The City of Olathe is developing a Communities for All Ages plan as part of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Communities for All Ages recognition program.
Olathe’s senior population grows by about 2,000 senior citizens each year. This growing senior population will present many challenges for the City, but Olathe is working to ensure the community is designed for all ages.
The Communities for All Ages plan will evaluate the City’s current resources and identify opportunities to promote a healthy, safe, and accessible environment for older adults. Goals of the program include:
- Engaging aging populations in the planning process.
- Encouraging collaborative spaces for all generations to interact.
- Strengthening connections between homes, transportation, health care, recreation, and services.
Over the past few decades, the median age of America has dramatically increased from 30 years old in 1980 to 38 in 2017, according to the US Census.. The City of Olathe’s population over 60 years old grows by 2,000 people every two years. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of older adults in Olathe is growing at a faster rate than at the state and national level.
Olathe is preparing for this growing aging population by becoming a Community for All Ages. Olathe is integrating the needs of the aging population into the planning process, the use of City resources, and the services offered to the community.
Recently, Olathe leaders officially recognized the City’s efforts to become more age-friendly and participate in a regional program to become adapted for all ages. As part of the Community for All Ages program, Olathe will:
- Be committed to equitable and accessible housing
- Make land use and design decisions based on the equity and inclusion of older adults
- Focus on the mobility and safety of all residents
- Facilitate greater social connections between Olathe’s diverse community
With these goals in mind, Olathe will become a supportive, livable, and safe community for residents of all ages.
The City will support Olathe’s residents as they age. Communities for All Ages programs and policies will help build a community where all residents are highly valued and engaged with their neighbors and surrounding environment. Olathe’s commitment to create social, civic, and cultural bonds is integral to the initiative. These policies will guide how the City uses resources and supports residents by placing more importance on how older adults experience Olathe.
Olathe’s vision to be a Community for All Ages is possible through partnership with the community, leaders, residents, and key organizational partners throughout the greater Johnson County area. The City’s comprehensive plan, PlanOlathe, establishes a vision to “create a welcoming community that continues to improve its quality of life,” a perfect complement to the Community for All Ages program.
By becoming a Community for All Ages, Olathe will:
- Create an environment which fosters economic growth and opportunities.
- Build physical structures and open spaces that are accessible and easy for all people to use.
- Implement mobility solutions which meet resident’s needs for independence.
- Strengthen community services and engagement opportunities to promote intergenerational connections within the community.
Additionally, the City is committed to providing the highest quality infrastructure and human services. The Community for All Ages program will ensure services and infrastructure are suitable for residents of all ages.
The Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) has developed the Community for All Ages recognition program to promote communities of vibrance, health, and prosperity in all cities throughout the metro. MARC is focusing on providing cities with tools and ideas on how to adapt to help older adults thrive, including:
- Promotion of older adults as community resources.
- Adaption of mobility tools and the built environment for the benefit of older adults.
- Promotion of healthier lifestyles.
- Increasing awareness and support for caregivers.
MARC has developed a toolkit and a number of other resources to help guide cities as they become Communities for All Ages. The recognition program is a way to motivate cities and help residents measure the success of their community in helping people age well.
Olathe will complete the requirements set by MARC in order to earn recognition as a Community for All Ages. The City will partner with MARC over the coming years to learn best practices, educate residents, City officials, the development community, and other key participants in Olathe. This partnership will lead Olathe to a stronger vision for the future and better ways of supporting all Olathe’s residents.
MARC has developed 3 stages of recognition, Bronze, Silver, and Gold, for a city’s work to help older adults stay involved with their community. Olathe’s plan and progress toward meeting these requirements are:
- Adopted a resolution to become a Community for All Ages
- Presented information to the Planning Commission and City Council on becoming a Community for All Ages
- Provided written materials on age-friendly communities at several City facilities
- Posted information about demographic changes and Communities for All Ages on OlatheKS.org
- A Community for All Ages committee will collaborate with the community and key partners to guide the development of the plan
- The City will complete the MARC Communities for All Ages checklist to assess existing resources and programs and identify key community needs and opportunities
- A Communities for All Ages Plan will be adopted into the Plan Olathe comprehensive plan with goals and guidelines to be an age-friendly community
- The City will continue to evaluate progress and achievements in meeting the goals of the Communities for All Ages plan