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AARP Awards $24,000 to Six Vermont Communities

AARP Vermont has announced the winners of six community grants totaling $24,000. The Winter Placemaking Grant Program encourages demonstration projects that create public spaces and streets that are safe and accessible for everyone. This is the fourth year of the program which aims to help communities build social capital that can help lead to permanent change supporting healthy, active lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities.

The communities are Wilmington, Roxbury, Holland, Hardwick, Johnson and the Old East End neighborhood in Burlington. Each community received a $4,000 grant.

“These grants are aimed at improving our public spaces, which play a vital role in making us feel connected to one another and our communities,” explained Kelly Stoddard-Poor of AARP Vermont. “When winter sets in and the temperature drops and the days grow darker it’s easy to forget the important role that our public spaces play. This is when isolation is at its highest among older adults. By investing in vibrant, inclusive public spaces we can help reduce social isolation by creating a welcoming space that is geared toward addressing the challenges of winter — such as light, warmth, color and activity.

The Placemaking projects are intended to inspire and educate community leaders and residents. “We have seen that these communities can start small by test-driving a process in the community with the expectation that the project will be further improved upon and refined over time — and hopefully lead to permanent change to the built environment,” said Stoddard-Poor.

“Demonstration projects like these have led to positive exciting new improvements in communities across the country.”

Program Objectives:

  • Enhance perceptions and attitudes toward community change.
  • Recognize how placemaking and community design influence successful aging, equity and health while enhancing overall livability.
  • Give participants an expanded toolkit to draw from to build healthier more vibrant public spaces during the winter months.

Grant Awardees for 2021:

  1. Wilmington Works:  Support of weekly winter programming, Winterplace, for seniors and families with small children.  Funds will be used to support:
  1. Park improvements (adjacent to the Old School Community Center) will include lighting, heat, outdoor recreation, and signage to increase accessibility during the winter months.
  2. Weekly outdoor winter programming activities for seniors and families with small children.
  3. Old East End Neighborhood
  1. Hold annual Winterlude event at Schmanska Park with free and accessible outdoor recreational activities for all ages focused on reducing isolation.
  2. Enhance neighborhood park features with additional lighting, winter lanterns, trail access and a warming hut.
  3. Roxbury
  1. Hold a community-wide intergenerational winter lantern festival in the village green/park with winter activities for older adults and children.
  2. Create and purchase accessible seating options in the park allowing community members to enjoy the space year round.
  3. Johnson
  1. Improve community access to Legion Field during the winter months with the incorporation of public art and lighting at the ice rink, (a) hold a winter art walk; (b) hold a scavenger hunt.
  2. Provide free outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages with the construction of a winter equipment loaning library.
  1. Holland:
    1. Create an accessible, indoor, heated walking path for seniors in the community to utilize during the winter months when walkability conditions are unsafe and treacherous on rural roads without sidewalks.
    2. Hold monthly meet-ups for walking groups and yoga.
  1. Hardwick
    1. Incorporate beautification efforts in the village center with lighting during the darkest months of the year to include wrapping of 15 lamp posts and 6 trees. The lighting will provide much needed light for pedestrian safety and support economic vibrancy in the village center.

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