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Charlotte, NC

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Improved wayfinding

Description: Sustain Charlotte hoped to build enthusiasm for the concept of ten-minute neighborhoods -- places where people can meet their daily needs without needing to own a car. Based on input from residents of Charlotte's North End, the organization designed and installed 86 wayfinding signs. Each displays a QR code, which visitors can scan with their smartphones to view a map of neighborhood amenities, including parks and recreation centers, schools and public transportation. Following this project, Sustain Charlotte has continued its relationship with North End residents. The North End Community Coalition now serves on the steering committee for the Charlotte Regional Transportation Coalition, which Sustain Charlotte started in 2020. That coalition advocates for equity-centered transportation improvements, which include pedestrian and bike infrastructure. Since then, the City has increased its budget for transportation projects to make biking and walking safer.

Belchertown, MA

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Improved wayfinding

Description: Located near schools and an assisted living community, the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail is designed to welcome trail users of all abilities, including those with limited mobility or sensory issues. The rope-guided trail with Braille markers -- one of four in the state -- serves as a model for future accessible projects. This project added new tactile signs in Braille. Another feature gives visitors the option to lower the new trailhead kiosk to wheelchair height for easy access. Signage along the trail points out intersections, resting spots and information about lake ecology and the site's history. Part of the Belchertown Heritage Trails network, the sensory trail has since attracted more additional and community involvement.

Sheboygan, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2019

Project Category: Improved wayfinding

Description: The City of Sheboygan augmented its downtown historical walking tour by creating a mobile app to teach residents and tourists about the city's heritage. The app was based on StriveOn, a platform designed to tell stories about local places. Additionally, the City installed signs and created printed paper maps for people who don't use smartphones or computers. The effort involved local businesses -- and their unique buildings -- in the tour. Project organizers hope the walking tour gets people interested in historical preservation and increases opportunities for physical activity.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Center Township, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Community Gardens

Description: The Edna Martin Christian Center set out to provide food access, recreation options and income opportunities for residents of the Martindale-Brightwood area by creating a new urban garden space. To extend the growing season, project organizers built a hoop house at its Henry Blair Farm and Urban Gardens. The Center installed raised garden beds at the site, designed for gardeners to use while standing. New walking paths also ensured the gardens' accessibility. In addition, the Center created a labyrinth for prayer and medication, as well as a farm stand made from a repurposed shipping container. Project organizers envision residents using the beds for entrepreneurial projects, such as growing flowers or vegetable seedlings to sell at the farm stand. They also anticipate the gardens' operation needs will create employment opportunities for local older adults.

Muncie, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public spaces improvements to increase high-speed internet availability

Description: Sustainable Muncie Corporation installed internet access points at Madjax, the organization's warehouse, which is home to collaborative workspaces, a design and tinkering lab and a makerspace. Previously, public internet access in Muncie was limited to local libraries and coffeeshops. Now residents of the East Central neighborhood can either sit inside Madjax or access Wi-Fi from outside the facility. Project organizers hope their new outdoor internet access points help bridge the digital divide in the community. In addition, the organization is establishing an ambassador program to provide older adults with peer-to-peer technology support. They say the new internet connection has also helped Sustainable Muncie's Retirees Entrepreneurial Club get off the ground.

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