Warner's Grant Brings Students into Age-Friendly Communities Research

June 30, 2020

The Cornell Office of Engagement Initiatives has awarded a new $50,000 Impact Grant to Professor Mildred Warner, CRP, for research on age-friendly communities.

Engaged Cornell Impact Grants support scholars with an existing community-engaged research agenda who are ready to scale student and community partner participation and evaluate the long-term impact of their programs.

Warner's proposal, Age Friendly Communities, supports the promotion of a multigenerational approach through engagement with critical community partners at the local, state, and national levels. The project supports four undergraduate student interns to explore multigenerational strategies that enhance public health with Tompkins County's Age Friendly Center of Excellence and the Child Development Council.

Tompkins County is a leader in developing innovative approaches that can be replicated by communities across the state. The Center of Excellence was designated by the New York Academy of Medicine, New York State's Department of Health, and Office of the Aging. Warner notes, "Age-friendly initiatives often focus only on the needs of older adults, but there is potential to create an 'all ages' approach that also includes the needs of families with children."

"This project links to our broader national work on 'Planning for All Ages' and to our partners at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, who are conducting a second case study in rural African American communities," Warner says.

"Communities face many challenges to becoming more age-friendly. In this project, we are broadening the view of planners and agency officials to address the needs of children and older adults, and to build linkages to public health."

The student interns are engaged in various activities. Savanna Lim (B.S. URS '21) is building GIS applications for Tompkins County. Lin Oo (B.S. URS '21) is developing a database of funders for community outreach, and Grace McCartney (B.S. URS '22) is reviewing municipal plans and training needs. Nutritional sciences major Jeremy Xu '21 is writing best practices on the multiagency response to food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This research complements Warner's and Xue Zhang's (M.S. URS '17, Ph.D. RS '19) national research grant to enable a comparative perspective on how local governments build age-friendly communities across the U.S. A webinar by the American Planning Association recently profiled this work. Zhang is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Global Developmental in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

By Patti Witten

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