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South Bend, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Many older adults in South Bend have trouble connecting with their peers to engage in meaningful conversation. South Bend Heritage develops affordable housing for older adults and provides supportive services to facilitate aging in place. The organization transformed an alley that connects one of its apartment buildings to South Bend's downtown. The alley now features benches, picnic tables, lighting and grills. Since the improvements, the space hosts monthly events to encourage apartment residents and the wider community to gather and socialize.

Monroeville, AL

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Organizers with Monroeville's Main Street initiative hoped to draw residents to the city's historic downtown district. To give people a reason to gather outdoors, they added wheelchair-accessible game tables and seating in several locations, including the grounds of the Monroe County Museum, two parks, the local YMCA and a senior center. The organization also purchased checkers and chess game pieces, which are available to visitors to check out. Part of a larger campaign to decrease littering and encourage community pride, organizers also installed trash cans downtown. And to increase facetime with constituents, the newly elected mayor also called on residents to challenge him to a game of chess or checkers. Organizers say the placemaking project is meant to unite the community by giving people a place to connect with each other.

Ponce, PR

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Ponce -- Puerto Rico's second largest city -- is recovering after two hurricanes and several earthquakes damaged its downtown, leaving many families homeless. As part of reconstruction efforts, City leaders are focusing on bolstering community arts and activating public spaces. To make the downtown core more inviting, the City improved a walkway that connects the Plaza del Mercado Isabel II with the local marketplace. To prepare the site, City staff made infrastructure upgrades and revamped landscaping. They then added tables and benches to the site, allowing visitors to gather to enjoy live music, play board games and exercise. The City also installed a platform where artisans can display their work.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Detroit, MI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2022

Project Category: Accessibility of amenities

Description: To welcome older adults and people with mobility challenges, this project installed an ADA-compliant boardwalk and deck near Mission Point, a nursing and rehabilitation facility. In addition to creating a flat walking surface, volunteers installed seating to give visitors a place to rest. The improvements are part of the larger Circle Forest project, an effort to clean up and restore native wildlife to twelve vacant lots in Detroit.

Detroit, MI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2024

Project Category: Trails

Description: This project will create a trail connecting local parks, schools, community centers and commercial areas. The multiuse trail will serve pedestrians and bikers of all ages and abilities, with features including accessible pathways, rest areas and signage.

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