Through grant funding, collaboration and technical support, communities across Massachusetts have an opportunity to support older adults and residents of all ages in remaining physically active and socially engaged this winter.

Cities and towns can promote social engagement with the help of a new guide, “Age-Friendly Winter Spaces: Ideas for Municipalities to Embrace Winter.” Developed by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, WalkBoston and the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, the guide was also reviewed with the MMA Policy Committee on Public Works, Utilities and Transportation.

With a timely funding opportunity available through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program, communities can consider simple concepts and examples that promote physical and mental wellness along with safety and social connection. The grant program awards bonus points for projects that are inclusive of older adults, and the new guide can help communities develop successful bids.

Such projects could include “Safe Routes for Seniors,” including safe walking and bicycling facilities within one mile of senior centers, housing for elders, and travel corridors used by seniors.

The Shared Streets and Spaces Program, established in June 2020, provides grants from $5,000 to $300,000 for quick-build improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces, and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility and renewed commerce.

Written by James Fuccione, Senior Director of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative