FAIRMONT - Area residents are being called together to help keep those age 50 and older vibrant and active.
Martin County Senior Vitality Council is in its early stages and, according to Community Education and Recreation director Roni Dauer, it is poised to be a voice for the aging population.
Dauer said anyone, young or old, is encouraged to be part of the council. Its mission is to bring awareness to the issues of the aging. Those can range from mobility to policy issues. Exactly what form it takes is up to the council. It could be a policy group, a lobbying group - any and all ideas will be considered.
"We want people to take ownership of this," said Dauer, adding that what groups like this accomplish depends on the needs of each community.
The group is part of the larger Martin County Senior Vitality Project, a program made possible through a Statewide Health Improvement Program grant.
SHIP grants provide funds to improve healthy and purposeful living for many groups - locally the Safe Routes to School program is funded through SHIP, as well a school nutrition program, and others.
But with 30 percent of the county's population falling into the senior category, Dauer sees a senior focus as vital.
"There is no senior council in our county," she said. "There are senior centers, but hopefully, this will become a voice for seniors in the community."
Dauer conceded the term "senior" may not resonate with everyone in the targeted age group but believes that even young seniors - baby boomers just coming of age - can benefit from having a voice in the community.
"It will bring awareness to these issues," she said.
For older seniors, Dauer hopes the council helps them know they are a valuable part of the community, even as their needs change and, sometimes, increase.
"I understand how people can start to feel like they don't have a purpose when they aren't as mobile and can't drive," Dauer said. "Hopefully this will give them a voice."
Anyone interested in being part of the senior vitality council is welcome to attend an organizational meeting 5:45-7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Five Lakes Elementary School cafeteria. A light lunch will be served.
Please RSVP by Sept. 28 to (507) 235-3141.