Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert

In the midst of a global pandemic that has stimulated social unrest and economic crisis, South Florida has been given an opportunity to celebrate positive achievement. Under the leadership of Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert, III, the city of Miami Gardens has been named among 22 finalists to receive the 2020 All-America City Award (AAC).

The announcement was made March 17 by the National Civic League who created the award in 1949 to recognize communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues.

Miami Gardens was shortlisted for the award from over 120 applicants and is one of two cities statewide to move on in the process; the other state finalist is the city of Miami Lakes.

The 2020 AAC celebrates examples of civic engagement practices that advance health and well-being in local communities to improve health outcomes. The city of Miami Gardens upholds the aforementioned by demonstrating longstanding and innovative civic engagement success.

“We are pleased, and it is appropriate that the city of Miami Gardens is specifically honored for its civic engagement,” Gilbert told The Miami Times, Tuesday, March 24.

“The unfortunate presence of COVID-19 speaks to the importance of paying attention to health and through our Live Healthy Miami program and related civic engagement initiatives, we have continuously addressed heart disease, asthma, cancer and related diseases long before the country was faced with the coronavirus,” Gilbert added.

The city of Miami Gardens created the office of civic engagement to enhance engagement with its residents, to aid in building a trusting relationship between the city and the community and to implement various civic awareness initiatives.

The overarching goal for the office of civic engagement is to educate, inform and empower city of Miami Garden’s residents through proactive and positive engagement opportunities.

Finalists compete this June in Denver, Colorado to be named one of 10 All America Cities for 2020.

Each year, hundreds of leaders, volunteers, and young people from the finalist communities present the story of their work and their community to a jury of national experts. The awards conference includes workshops on promising practices.

The city of Miami Gardens’ written application spotlighted innovative projects such as Live Healthy Miami Gardens, Keep Miami Gardens Beautiful and the General Obligation Bond program underscoring the city’s investment in public infrastructure through renovations and enhancements of the city’s Parks system and more.

“If we are still offered an opportunity to compete in June, our presentation will definitely amplify our civic engagement in the areas of health, voter registration and the census,” said Gilbert who added that the status of COVID-19 may postpone the awards conference.

“We will present a body of work for civic engagement that represents more than just the mayor’s fitness challenge where people do yoga and powerwalk with me. We will demonstrate the support we garner from private businesses and financial support that you generally don’t see in cities,” offered Gilbert.

“That kind of support is how we create greater communities. A strong city is not built on just development, it’s different areas coming together for aggregated success.”

The AAC award – once called the “Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship” – has been awarded to more than 500 communities across the country. Every city that participates, whether as an applicant, finalist or winner, walks away with a stronger sense of their community assets, their challenges and ways to move forward together.

Managing Editor

Penny Dickerson is a journalist joining The Miami Times following an Africa sojourn and 10-year freelance career in newspaper and magazine. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and B.A. in Journalism from Temple University.

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