Seniors are on the move at the Delta Sport Development Centre – and loving every minute of it.
Following a funding announcement of $150,000 from the provincial government in July, Seniors Can Move, a made-in-Delta program, has taken off.
Developed by the Delta Gymnastics Society last year, the program is enabling those 65 years and older to take part in physical activity in a gymnastics setting.
Classes are open to all Delta seniors and registration is free. Classes include simple stretching routines as well as other exercises designed to help improve agility, balance, co-ordination and strength.
Since the funding announcement in July, the society is running nine classes a week with 144 participants. There’s a waitlist for every class.
“The idea is to get seniors active, build their competence and confidence to moving so that their balance and coordination improves, teaching them falling techniques, how to recover from a fall – some of those basic life skills that we might take for granted,” said Delta Gymnastics developmental program coordinator Richard Woo.
Woo said the idea for Seniors Can Move came from a program for those 50-plus that began thanks to a federal government New Horizons grant. That program was so successful organizers began asking what they could do for the next age group.
“So we applied and got the New Horizons grant which gave us the opportunity to run a pilot for a year for the 65-plus age group,” he added.
Follow-up surveys found 89 per cent of participants said they would keep attending while the other 11 per cent said they might continue.
“No one said no, so overall it was very successful,” said Woo.
That funding ran out earlier this year but the provincial government stepped up to fund the program for another year as well as fund a pilot program in other gyms throughout the province.
The gym club has created a course based on the program that will be replicated at up to 16 other facilities in B.C., with a goal of providing 75 weeks of programing through fall 2020.
Woo said Delta Gymnastics has just selected the clubs that will be offering the pilot program in the fall and is in the process of sending out materials and organizing training.
As well, the society will bring geriatric professionals, like nurses and physiotherapists, to Delta Gymnastics for specialized consultations to support seniors’ health.
“Overall the feedback has been excellent,” Woo said. “Lots of the participants are returning participants from previous sessions. The success stories that really stand out are the ones where people have started taking stairs again for the first time or they aren’t using their walker in their residence or cane depending on the person. We’ve had a few participants who have had strokes in the past so it has been great for their rehab.”
Woo said one of the other aspects of the program is creating an environment where young and old can experience health and fitness together.
“There is the opportunity for that intergeneration social time,” he said. “Regardless of whether they get to know each other, sharing the same space means everyone gets a lot out of the experience. The classes generally overlap by only a few minutes, but one particular day the bus was late picking up the seniors and a couple of the kids refused to leave because they hadn’t seen their ‘grandmas and grandpas.’ So it’s those little things that are important and are opportunities that we don’t normally get in our community. These are the added benefits.
“We are here to help everyone be active, helping with seniors who are not normally active to feel safe so they can be active, healthy and have the added confidence to take those steps to have a healthy lifestyle.”
To get on a waitlist for the program, call 604-943-0460 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.