Articulating the goals for your event will be instrumental in keeping the planning and preparing on track and focused. While the overarching goal may be improving older road user safety, the specific goals for the event should include what the desired outcome is. Are you asking a group of people to take a particular action? Do you have a broader goal that this event will support? Examples of goals might include, but not be limited to:
- Setting a community goal to reduce the number of crashes involving older drivers
- Engaging new partners to improve older road user safety
- Educating individuals, family members, and caregivers
- Celebrating achievements in road safety
- Establishing new processes – gathering input or ideas to improve older road user safety
Knowing what you want to achieve will help determine the target audience, type of event, and who might be potential partners.
Every community is different and has different needs. Based on the goal you’ve established, consider who the audience for the event might be. If setting a community goal, you might want to include members of the public as well as local law enforcement and local government. If the goal is educating a particular group, you may want to limit your audience to just that group. If you are seeking new processes to improve road safety, you might hold public comment meetings, meetings among stakeholders, and meetings with various government entities that can come together to contribute to the outcome.
As you think about the target audience and your goals, you should explore the potential partners that might enhance the event experience for the audience. This might include local community organizations, faith-based groups, senior centers, and local businesses. Good partners typically are those that want to reach the same audience and have similar or complementary goals. Partners can be instrumental in securing locations, helping to promote the event within the community, or even helping to fund the event if it has costs associated with it.
Determining Type of Event
There are several options to consider when planning community events – many of which will be dictated by the audience and goals for your event. If your goal is to identify road safety improvements, you may want to consider a planning meeting with local government agencies, a town hall type event to seek public input, and subsequent meetings – both open to the public and closed – to discuss potential solutions. If you are interested in educating older drivers about road safety you may want to present to a group at a senior center or library or host an interactive event that helps drivers understand the options available. (This might include Carfit, driving rehabilitation specialists, and local law enforcement and others to speak to the range of options.) If your community has annual community events (e.g., food festivals, county fairs, etc.), you may want to exhibit to provide information to individuals and family members.
You want to schedule your event when it has the greatest opportunity for generating interest and attendance. This might be in coordination with an event, in recognition of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, or on a date or week that is relevant to your audience and your community. You will also want to explore other events in your community. This not only allows you to schedule your event when there is less competition for your target audience’s attention but also may identify an existing event where you can participate as a presenter, exhibitor, etc. When scheduling your event consider the target audience. If targeting older adults, you may want to consider lunchtime or afternoon activities. If targeting family members, you may want to consider an evening event to accommodate work schedules. If you are targeting professionals in the community to help develop program ideas and improve safety, you might want to schedule during normal working hours. Picking a time that is most convenient to your audience will yield better results than just picking a time that works for you.
Finding a Location
Communities have different locations that are available for public meetings. If you are partnering with an organization, they may have a facility that would be appropriate for the event. You might have a local community center available, library meeting space, faith-based space, law enforcement community room, a local government community room, or a local business with space available. While it is easy to invite people to attend your event, remember your audience. If you have a local senior center or retirement center, then bring the presentation to your audience. Talk to local staff at the senior center and see the best time to do presentations. There might be a lunch or snack that can be offered during your presentation. Some communities have a “senior outreach night” and resources in the community come together to share information to seniors. Participating in one of these events, that is specifically targeted to seniors, could be beneficial.