About the Age-Friendly Mini-Grant Program
The Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative, a collaborative effort to make Miami-Dade County a place where older adults can stay active, engaged, and healthy with dignity and enjoyment awarded five Age-Friendly Mini-Grants to local organizations to help jump-start age-friendly projects across the county. The projects were each selected based on their ability to address community needs as identified through the 2017 Age-Friendly Community Survey
. The survey helped to understand the current state of needs and areas of urgency for the county. Each organization was awarded a $2,500 mini-grant.
Results and experiences of the funded projects helped promote age-friendly thinking and action across Miami-Dade County. The mix of mini-grants demonstrates that municipal governments, nonprofit organizations, health service organizations, and others can play important roles in making Miami-Dade age-friendly. The 2019 recipients included the City of North Miami, Equality Lab, Town of Cutler Bay, Town of Miami Lakes, and ReServe Elder Service, Inc.
Meet the 2019 Mini-Grantees!
1. City of North Miami
The City of North Miami set out to develop an outdoor gathering space for aging residents, in the form of a community garden. 10 community residents participated in planting three citrus trees and more than 60 vegetables and herbs. More residents will participate in the biweekly gardening program and the city hopes that all residents will be able to reap the benefits of the harvest.
The City of North Miami has significant areas which are classiﬁed as Low Income and Low Access food deserts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). With the support of the Age-Friendly Initiative Mini-Grant, the City will revitalize and improve the community garden located at Clyde W. Judson Jr. Community Center. The garden will provide fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the North Miami community, and it will also become a green space for educational workshops about cooking, healthy eating alternatives, and gardening skills. Community gardens serve as hubs for communities to have food access, and they have been shown to help relieve stress, increase physical activity, and reduce crime rates.
(Age-Friendly Domains: Respect & Social Inclusion, Community Support & Health Services, Social Participation, Outdoors Spaces & Buildings)
2. Equality Lab
VR GENIE uses virtual reality to fulfill seniors’ wishes and allow them to tick off elements of their bucket list to fight social isolation and depression. The mini-grant project aimed to scientifically evaluate the program and redefine the scope to better serve multicultural communities. With the funding, the team was able to hire a neuroscientist to evaluate the program, purchase hardware, and provide training to staff. VR GENIE was tested successfully across Miami-Dade County and among diverse populations. The program looks forward to creating new, culturally relevant, immersive experiences.
Equality Lab is a virtual reality-driven 501(c)3 non-proﬁt organization that is dedicated to leveraging immersive technology to care for seniors in an aging society. The Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative Mini-Grant will allow Equality Lab to implement VR GENIE in different locations throughout the county. VR GENIE is a non-proﬁt initiative that uses virtual reality to fulﬁll seniors’ wishes through immersive technology. With VR GENIE, older adults can experience going back to one’s motherland, visiting Europe for the ﬁrst time, doing a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and even swimming with dolphins. Given that many seniors in Miami-Dade do not have the physical or financial means to travel, this project will bring such enriching experiences to them.
(Age-Friendly Domains: Social Participation, Respect & Social Inclusion, Community Support and Health Services)
3. Town of Cutler Bay
The Town of Cutler Bay proposed to add two computer kiosks with internet access at Marilyn Hope’s Place, an Adult Day Care. The computers and a printer were installed in December of 2019. These computers allow the 101 residents and daycare attendees to conduct business, remain informed of current events, learn computer skills, and connect with family.
In 2010, the Town of Cutler Bay joined Florida’s Communities for a Lifetime (CFAL) Initiative and formed a volunteer CFAL Committee that works with the Town’s staﬀ to organize events throughout the year that focus on older adults. The Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative Mini-Grant will allow the Town to install a small computer lab at Marilyn Hope’s Place, a senior living facility with approximately 101 units. All residents will be able to use the equipment to surf the internet, complete business online, and access Microsoft oﬃce tools. In the past, residents of Cutler Bay have reported that they did not feel well informed about the Town’s activities because they do not have access to computers. The Town aspires to keep older adults informed by placing computer kiosks at each of the eight senior living facilities within the Town. Marilyn Hope’s Place is the ﬁrst to agree to serve as a partner in this pilot project.
(Age-Friendly Domains: Communication & Information, Respect & Social Inclusion)
4. Town of Miami Lakes
The Town of Miami Lakes executed the Opening Doors to Parks project creating ADA compliant access at the Mary Collins Community Center. With an anticipated 10,000 visitors annually, the community center is now age friendly and accessible to all.
The Town of Miami Lakes hosts a variety of courses, programs, and events for older adults at the Mary Collins Community Center. The Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative Mini-Grant will allow the Town to provide the Opening Doors to Parks Project at this community center. The project will update the Mary Collins Community Center’s local public building by implementing ADA compliant access. With the purchase and installation of electronic door openers, the community center will become more secure, welcoming, and accessible for all ages. A preliminary survey revealed that over 5,000 seniors participate in classes and events year-round at the community center. The Lunch Bunch and Bingo events average an attendance of 2,500 older adults per year, and homeowners’ associations and community groups utilize the classroom spaces for monthly meetings. The project will also ensure that the older adults voting community will have an ADA compliant accessible building at this designated Early Voting Site.
(Age-Friendly Domains: Outdoor Spaces & Buildings, Social Participation, Civic Participation)
5. ReServe Elder Service, Inc.
ReServe sought to recruit and train older adults for paid volunteer opportunities as Dementia Care Coaches. 50 individuals were trained by an expert and they now have the skills to assist community members with dementia. ReServe, Inc is now working on a comprehensive business development plan in order to identify funding for the volunteers to work as Dementia coaches in South Florida.
ReServe Elder Service Inc. opened its doors in South Florida in 2011 and established a Dementia Care Coaching (DCC) program in July 2017. The program builds on the skills and experience of “ReServists,” who are retired professionals above 50 years old who seek to make a social impact and serve their community for a modest stipend. “ReServists” have been trained to meet the growing need for education and support among caregivers of people with dementia. The Age-Friendly Initiative Mini-Grant will allow ReServe Elder Service, Inc. to conduct community outreach and educate older populations on the signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. This will be done through on-site presentations at retirement and senior activity centers. The grant will also provide resources for individuals who require medical diagnosis and professional intervention. The funding will make it possible to offer Dementia Care Coaching services to assist families with adjustment to the diagnosis and in caring for their loved ones. Since Florida has the nation’s second-highest number of residents with Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a need for programs that take an inclusive approach to educate all members of the family on dementia and the best ways to cope with the diagnosis.
(Age-Friendly Domain: Community Support & Health Services, Employment)
For more information about the Miami Dade Age-Friendly Initiative, please visit agefriendlymiami.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to learn about the 2018 Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Initiative Grantees!