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.