Age-Friendly Louisville, Kentucky


Get Involved

“If you see things in your city that you know could be improved, or if you have ideas on how to make your city better, it’s definitely worth the work of getting involved,” says Tihisha Rawlins of AARP Kentucky. “I see age-friendly as an opportunity to get like-minded people together to work on common goals.”

Have a Place at Every Table

“We think of everything as an opportunity. And because we had so many people at the table, the brainstorming was incredible,” recalls Rawlins. “At the time, Louisville was just getting ready to start work on its 2040 strategic plan. We made sure that age-friendly team members attended a meeting — and when something was discussed in the meeting, we made sure the speaker remembered to put the ‘aging lens’ on.”

Take the Time

“We didn’t rush the process. When we did our focus group, we had two in every part of the community,” says Rawlins. And then we said, ‘This isn’t enough. We need more. Let’s go to where different groups are meeting.’ It took time to say, ‘Hey we’re here, what do you all think about this?’ After two years of research we took another year to come up with a strategy.”

Break Down (or Don’t Ever Build) Walls

Pam Yankeelov of Age-Friendly Louisville describes the many meetings she attended during the COVID-19 pandemic as “a lot less territorial. It was more, ‘We’re here together. Let’s see if we can do more of this, more sharing, more support, more promoting one another.”

Her colleague Sarah Teeters agrees: “I think the silos were broken down a little bit. It wasn’t business is business. Prior to COVID-19, it was more about, ‘I’ve got the biggest marketing numbers and we’ve got the most donations.’ It was more of a numbers game. COVID humbled not just people but businesses and organizations. We all wanted to see places thrive and be successful, and I think that opened doors for communication where people didn’t have walls up. Everyone had a shared trauma.”

“Age-friendly work gives you a deeper understanding, greater awareness of the various organizations and their missions and how those missions overlap with each other,” Yankeelov adds. “When you get to know people on a personal level, your lives become intertwined. Your professional and your friendship networks grow. Passion builds on passion, so the energy you bring to the table is multiplied because those around you have the same degree and depth of passion.”

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