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Campaign Seeks To Align Community Leaders in Effort to Make Florida Elder-Friendly; President Merwin First to Endorse DEA Initiative
3/3/2003

FORT MYERS, FL - A Southwest Florida campaign to align community leaders and stakeholders in support of the Department of Elder Affairs’ “Communities for a Lifetime” initiative was officially launched when Florida Gulf Coast University President William C. Merwin was the first person to endorse the resolution last week.

In March, the Collier County Board of Commissioners will consider the proclamation also, which is an effort to encourage entire communities to share the responsibility of coordinating resources and collaborating efforts in order to make Florida an elder-friendly and interdependent place, director of the FGCU Center for Assisted Living Innovation Gary Kluckhuhn said.

Kluckhuhn says with the assembly of a substantial consensus, the pinnacle of the campaign will be the declaration of the region’s commitment in a nationally broadcast celebration during the Housing and Assistive Lifestyle Opportunities, or HALO, EXPO April 4 and 5 in Alico Arena. The annual event addresses healthy lifestyle issues and interdependency through exhibits, seminars and demonstrations.

“Our goal is to have substantial consensus throughout Southwest Florida and Dr. Merwin’s endorsement is the first step in realizing the vision of our community being the most elder-ready, elder-friendly community in the nation,” Kluckhuhn said.

“Our community leaders and citizens have an opportunity, working with government officials, to ensure that we are all living in a healthy environment that meets our needs of housing, healthcare, transportation and other critical issues as we live and age in the community we love.”

Florida has the highest percentage of elders in any state and the population is expected to continue increasing into the next century. The U.S. Census Bureau says Florida had 2,755,000 residents aged 65 and older in July 2000, will increase in the next 12 years to 3,825,000 and reach almost 5.5 million in 2025.

“It’s easy to see why this initiative is so important to the well-being of our community. It is imperative that we make a commitment to work together to use our resources to their maximum benefit and provide a community where elders can maintain their dignity, security and independence,” Kluckhuhn said.

“Our community offers its residents an opportunity to enjoy an unparalleled lifestyle and DEA’s Communities for a Lifetime ensures that it is preserved for years to come. We welcome support from anyone or any group in the community who wants to play a part in conserving this legacy.”

For more information or a copy of the “Communities for a Lifetime” resolution, contact Kluckhuhn at (239) 404-7481.

For more information about the HALO EXPO, visit the web site at www.haloexpo.com .


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