There is one universal craving that more than 8 billion people in the world have; a feeling, a sense of belonging and safety. Every human wants to feel like they are safe and that they belong.
Many years ago, the legendary former Avalon Park Elementary School Principal, Pam Sanders, and her teachers visited my native hometown Zurich, Switzerland. Just after 8 in the evening, when it was getting dark, she wondered what our son Daniel, who at the time was 9 years old, was doing while his parents were at dinner. When we told her that he would join us soon, she was shocked to learn that he would be by himself on a 20-minute ride on public transportation to the restaurant.
Zurich is a mixed-used town, where people, live, learn, work, and play in close proximity to other members of the community. Each morning factory workers, office clerks, bankers, lawyers, doctors, and children of all ages leave their house. Many of them either walk or take public transportation to get to school, work or daily errands. Parents know their kids are safe, embedded in the community they belong to.
It is unthinkable to consider that a 9-year-old would travel alone on a bus in Orlando in the evening when it is dark and feel like they were safe and belong. But this is Avalon Park. A place where people can live, learn, work and play. While not all who belong in Avalon Park participate in all four of these activities, many of them are, and we call them quadruple stakeholders. They live in Avalon Park, their kids go to school within walking or biking distance, some work and most shop, patronize the 28+ restaurants and attend the many events. Living, learning, working, and playing together, in a community creates a strong sense of belonging and safety. When people know each other, they watch out for each other and each other’s families.
Since APG is a global company, there are times when I go to the office in what is considered the middle of the night in the US to connect with our colleagues and businesses in other countries during their operating hours. While I would not go as far as to say Avalon Park is a town that “never sleeps” I always see somebody late in the evening or early in the morning, walking, jogging, and most of the time somebody I know, and can say hi, have a quick chat. Those encounters give me an instant and strong feeling of belonging and safety right here in Avalon Park.
Living in a community like Avalon Park gives you a sense of belonging and safety, and I believe that those are two keys to healthy living.