For It Takes a Village programs to be successful, several groups of partners must agree to take part from the start—cultural partners, community partners, and research partners.
Cultural Partners include all potential venues for community programs—theatres, museums, arts centers, historical homes, zoos, public markets, neighborhood libraries, public parks, sports venues as well as commercial public settings—restaurants, cafes, yoga studies, bookstores. Every public municipal, not-for-profit, and commercial setting is a potential cultural partner for It Takes a Village. We take an asset-based approach to building programs around a community’s strengths.
Community Partners include all the places where potential participants in community programs live and spend their days—community centers, day centers, NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) apartment complexes, assisted living residences, and nursing homes. Among the most important community partners are those who can commit civic resources to an It Takes a Village program such as a community’s Mayor’s office, City Council, or a town’s Selectmen who can bring official recognition and a stamp of approval to the program. Also necessary are potential community resource groups such as Community Foundations and Rotary Clubs that can bring financial resources to bear.
Research Partners are an essential third set of participants because programs such as It Takes a Village remain sustainable only when actual positive outcomes are identified, measured, and reported. Evaluation of public programs for people with dementia can include a broad set of research disciplines: neuroscience, sociology, public health, and psychology among them. While individuals conducting the programs can themselves carry out evaluations, it is often wise to involve local academic institutions—University-based research centers—as more independent and thus objective program assessors. Evidence-based medicine today is almost a requirement in health care, and the development of evidence-based community programs is clearly on the immediate horizon.
In sum, the I’m Still Here Foundation is presently focused on developing It Takes a Village programs in communities—small neighborhoods, suburban towns, and larger cities that exhibit the cohesiveness and eagerness to participate required for success.