- Associated Press - Sunday, October 1, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Senior citizens living in group homes in Salt Lake City will have more opportunities to take the light rail train or buses to get to the grocery store or other places under a new test program funded by a grant.

Transit Together Grocery, started by Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Service, is a pilot program that features weekly trips to help senior citizens keep up their independence while living at senior residences.

“The first week I was a little bit worried about how they would handle it, but by the second week I was very confident,” said Seung Hong, one of the housing volunteers. “It’s a very good opportunity for them to get out from their comfort zones.”

The Transit Together Grocery program was developed by Janet Frick, the volunteer coordinator of Rides for Wellness and president of the Utah Aging Alliance. Her idea was selected as one of 88 “quick action” projects sponsored by the AARP Community Challenge 2017 grant. The Aging and Adult Services division matched the $4,500 AARP grant funding, the Deseret News reported (https://bit.ly/2yIHmmT ).

“I wanted to try to build some independence within their residential community and expand their social environment,” Frick said.

Wasatch Manor residents Tom and Donni Mitchell are both blind. Though they have traveled on public transit before, they agreed the program helped them learn where the grocery store was relative to their apartment.

“Now I know how to get there and get back safely,” Donni Mitchell said. “I think now I can get to the store and get back by myself, which is a big success.”

The grant provided funding for transit passes and grocery caddies for program participants.

After the pilot program ends in September, Frick plans to gather feedback from residents and compile information about implementing the program long term.

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Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com

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