TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Department on Aging celebrated Topeka/ Shawnee County's focus on how best it can support people of all ages.
The Department unveiled a highway sign that officially designates Topeka a Lifelong Community, an initiative of the Kansas Department on Aging that assists communities to plan for and better serve citizens of all ages, including seniors.
"Achieving this status has taken hard work on the local level," said Kathy Greenlee, secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging. "We at KDOA helped guide and promote this project, but it has taken great collaboration among local leaders, businesses, organizations and government agencies to get the job done. With the baby boomers starting to reach retirement age, the steps they have taken will be even more appreciated in the future."
When the Lifelong Communities Initiative began in 2002, KDOA asked area agencies on aging to nominate communities for the demonstration phase of the initiative. Nine communities were selected.
In addition to Topeka, the communities were Cottonwood Falls/Chase County, Great Bend, Dodge City, Concordia, Garden City, Hiawatha, Oberlin and Winfield. Signs were unveiled at Dodge City, Great Bend and Cottonwood Falls last year.
Greenlee says when people drive by the sign they should see it as an acknowledgement. "An acknowledgement that this community cares about, not just seniors, but people of all ages and has demonstrated caring in a way that came together as a team and really took a comprehensive look at the services provided here in Topeka and - in our scorecard - scored real well."
To participate, communities had to complete a community assessment focusing on six areas: business, community service, government, health care, housing and transportation. Then they had to develop and implement a detailed action plan to address areas needing improvement or expansion.
Greenlee says the thing that struck the voting team about Topeka was the different kinds of health care services available.
Kansas is the second state to implement the Lifelong Communities Initiative statewide, and that has garnered the program some national attention. It was recognized by the U.S. Administration on Aging as a 2007 Choices for Independence Program Champion.
The state of Florida also has recognized it as a Best Practice for Seniors program.