Introduction to the Vital Communities Toolkit
The Vital Aging Network's Vital Communities Toolkit helps build the capacity of individuals to create vital communities. Vital communities are communities in which people of all generations work together to find the right balance between meeting individual needs and achieving the common good.
Using VAN as a springboard, older adults are making major contributions to the communities in which they live, and together they are helping to shape the public perception of older adults as vital resources for addressing communities’ needs.
The Toolkit strives to produce the following outcomes:
- Empower individuals to act as civic leaders in their communities
- Encourage people to try new approaches.
- Shortcut the discovery process so that people start with “best practices” and therefore go down fewer dead-end trails
Vital Communities Assessment
A key element of the Vital Communities Toolkit is the Vital Communities Assessment, developed by the Vital Aging Network. It offers a way to evaluate communities' and individuals' assets related to vital aging.
The tool assists individuals interested in assessing how well their community supports vital aging. The tool groups the assets into three categories:
- Meeting basic needs for self-sufficiency
- Encouraging a community's involvement
- Promoting a high quality of life
The tookit includes the following sections:
- What Is a Vital Community? Information about the structures, processes, and relationships that help make a community a vital community—healthy, active, and productive for all ages.
- What's Needed for a Vital Communities? Every community needs to answer that question for itself. This section helps get the discussion started.
- Words of Wisdom about Planning (pdf). Advice and insights collected in a series of focus groups that conducted by VAN in 2007.
- Tools. Access to surveys, questionnaires, assessments, worksheets and other tools that can help you learn more about your community, hone your vision, and achieve your goals.
- Models. Plans and initiatives that have proven successful in communities around the country and that you could use as a starting point for replicating in your own community.
VAN initiated the Vital Communities Toolkit as part of the Minnesota Summit on Vital Aging in Vital Communities that took place in May 2004. The Atlantic Philanthropies provided funding to revise and enhance the Vital Communities Toolkit.
To view tpt's Getting There series, and to see discussions on community, click here.