"On Fridays, I do cardio"

"I go to yoga. I go lift weights. I take nutrition classes. On Fridays, I do cardio..." "I get there early for the coffee and then I do yoga too."

Twenty-somethings bragging about their gym routine? Not in this case! These were two sisters, both retired from working full time and both head over heels in love with their neighborhood senior wellness center. Raving about their workout classes was just the start.

For over two hours a group of us —older adults from DC's Ward 8, designers, nurses, and community strategists —gathered in a conference room to talk about health, wellness, neighborhoods and best days. It was a special event; the kind where people shared openly and felt heard. And those of us lucky enough to listen got the gift of hearing someone else's story.

This was the first in a series of listening sessions our team is doing in Ward 8. The goal is simple: let people tell us how they define health and living their best days. And if there are barriers, we want to hear them too.

It's still early in our process. Next our team will work to synthesize what we heard. We'll look for insights —understandings of needs, hopes and fears we wouldn't have known going into the project. Then we'll share those insights back with the community to see if we got them right. From there, we'll all brainstorm creative, achievable solutions. We'll look for projects we can just do, little steps towards having even more best days in Ward 8.

We closed the evening by asking people to draw how they feel about their health. Some of the drawings were of difficult scenes, and some expressed aspirations. And some, like this one, told the story of someone who is proud of their health, independence and own abilities. Rock on Superman!