Reston, Virginia is intent on being age-intentional. That means there are no senior centers. Instead, older adult programming is blended with those of children and youth at the Reston Community Center. There’s also the Robert E. Simon Children’s Center inside the Cameron Glen Care Center nursing home, where children and older residents interact daily, making the Care Center an intergenerational shared site.
The outcomes spring from the community’s intergenerational programming roots that run nearly five decades deep, when The Reston Association (formerly the Reston Homeowner’s Association) started in 1965, a year after real estate entrepreneur Robert E. Simon founded Reston.
Today, the Association continues to uphold Simon’s belief that open spaces and outdoor recreational amenities serve as meeting grounds for people of all ages.
Those amenities for 58,000+ residents include five village centers and one town center spread throughout nearly 12 square miles, while a 55-mile paved pathway system connects the neighborhoods – encouraging Reston’s young and old to reach out across economic, ethnic and social backgrounds daily.
Responding to a Fairfax County initiative “Reinventing Your Neighborhood,” the community founded Reston for a Lifetime in 2009. This group of concerned citizens and organizations help create solutions to make Reston a great place to live for people of all ages and abilities. They accomplish this by coordinating more than a dozen different organizations, all of which focus on providing intergenerational support and engagement.
The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce also encourages intergenerational collaborations through its Ethics Day event along with its mentorship and entrepreneurship programs.
There’s approximately $7 million in Reston Community Center’s annual budget that supports programs in aquatics, leisure and learning, as well as arts and events for all ages.
The community comes together for its Reston Multicultural Festival and to cheer on their youth at the sports leagues’ opening day celebrations. Reston’s founder, Simon, is a fixture at most functions. He’s also symbolic of how significant the elders’ presences are to Reston’s future generations.
The intergenerational bonds are present in a public art project that involves a local teen center collaborating on a mural with older adults from the Hunters Woods Fellowship House. Young and old get together for the annual Grandparents and Grandchildren Nature Walk at the Walker Nature Center. Those connections also result, in part, from older volunteers staffing many of Reston’s youth-specific programs.
While they celebrate their five decades as an age-optimized community, it’s clear that Reston’s goal is to stay in a game, where a single day's work is an achievement for eternity.
Description of Community:
Reston is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. An internationally known planned community founded in 1964, this award-winning community was built with the goal of revolutionizing post-World War II concepts of land use and residential/corporate development in suburban America.
Demographics (Source: U.S. Bureau 2010 QuickFacts):
Websites: www.reston.org, www.restontowncenter.com
Current Program Examples:
Reston Association offers dozens of programs that attracts residents of all ages, including an annual Grandparents and Grandchildren Nature Walk at the Walker Nature Center.
Reston, VA - MetLife Foundation and Generations United proudly announced that Reston, VA has been selected to receive one of four MetLife Foundation/Generations United America's Best Intergenerational Communities Awards. The awards are designed to heighten awareness of the importance intergenerational solidarity plays in building strong, supportive communities.
"We congratulate Reston, VA for earning this designation. It takes a great deal of effort and forward thinking to create a community where members of every generation want to live," notes Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. "Reston, VA has worked to ensure its residents enjoy a vibrant, meaningful place to live, are treated with respect and care, and have ample opportunity to work together for the betterment of all."
"MetLife Foundation understands the value of programs that encourage generations to work together for the benefit of the entire community," explained Dennis White, president and chief executive officer, MetLife Foundation. "Communities that care for and engage all members - regardless of age - deepen bonds between the generations and set an important example for other communities to follow. We applaud the four communities selected to receive the 2014 Best Intergenerational Communities Award, as well as the two National Finalists."
The other award recipients are the communities of: Maricopa County, AZ; City of Parkland, FL and Village of Shorewood, WI. Two other communities were named National Finalists: Miami Gardens, FL and Rye, NY.
A blue-ribbon panel of judges selected the winning entries from among a host of applicants from across the country. Robert Blancato, former executive director of the White House Conference on Aging and a partner in Matz, Blancato & Associates, served as a judge in the selection process. Blancato, who is also a strategic advisor for Generations United noted, "It is said you can live anywhere, but that does not make it a livable community. These awards signify that a critical component of a livable community is one that fosters an environment where generations live and work together. "
Presentation of this year's awards will occur on March 25 at the Cannon House Building, Room 121 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Best Intergenerational Communities awards program is made possible with a grant from MetLife Foundation.
About the MetLife Foundation: MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc, a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
About Generations United: For nearly three decades, Generations United www.gu.org has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.