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Gary, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Residents of Genesis Towers -- an affordable housing complex for older adults -- often congregated in a vacant lot in Gary's downtown. This project set out to activate the lot into an accessible gathering space. Local students worked to gather input from residents about their hopes for the new park, and the City held design workshops. Plans for the space featured ADA-accessible walkways, seating, picnic tables and raised garden beds. Organizers also worked to provide free Wi-Fi access in the space, as well as a bike repair station. Organizers say the park is designed to host free or low-cost events -- part of the overarching goal of combatting social isolation through innovative public spaces.

Milwaukee, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project contributed to efforts to revitalize a park, creating a safe, outdoor gathering for residents of Milwaukee's Historic King Drive neighborhood. Improvements included bollards with solar-powered lights, accessible picnic tables, trash receptacles and orange benches branded with the name of the neighborhood. Additionally, the BID convened an art task force and used tax increment financing to fund a new mural in the neighborhood. The success of the project also build momentum for branding efforts in nearby neighborhoods.

San Antonio, TX

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of San Antonio's World Heritage Office made improvements to the World Heritage Trail, which connects five Spanish colonial missions. The trail is one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S. To make the trail a more inviting place for people of all ages to walk, run and bike, the City added an interactive art installation beneath a highway overpass, which depicts each mission's location along the San Antonio River. They also installed limestone benches along the trail. Project organizers say the upgrades are meant to help visitors view a series of murals painted as part of a public art initiative.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Lynn, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The PATIO Parklet program involved installing three modular, portable parklets in downtown Lynn. Parklets transform curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces. The ones in Lynn include tables and seating, greenery and public art. Since installing the parklets, Lynn has seen improved street safety, increased foot traffic, more social interactions among residents and new, culturally relevant programming downtown. The parklets have hosted musical performances, sidewalk sales and the Living Room Series -- facilitated bilingual conversations on important local topics. One installation of the Living Room Series gave residents the chance to meet with school committee and city council candidates. Project organizers say the parklet initiative also helped Beyond Walls to deepen its relationship with partner organizations, including Greater Lynn Senior Services and the Lynn Council on Aging.

Lynn, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2023

Project Category: Walkability

Description: This project will conduct three walk audits to assess challenges that older adults face when accessing a shared-use trail. The organization will work with local stakeholders and city officials to advocate for improvements to increase accessibility and use.

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