It was a perfect day for a picnic in the park. Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens took advantage of it by transporting participants from its adult day center and child daycare facility to the “Fit for Life Park” located in the Richlands neighborhood of Lake Park on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Appalachian Agency received a Community Challenge Grant from AARP to help upgrade the under-utilized park owned by the Town of Richlands. With this funding provided by AARP, the agency purchased two wheelchair-accessible swings suitable for children and adults, two stationary air walkers and three benches to provide an occasion to engage with others utilizing the park. This project provides a unique fitness and play opportunity.
Existing playground equipment was donated several years ago from an elementary school when it closed. A 13’x’11’8’ wooden pirate ship and a 4’x’5’ playhouse connected by three swings were relocated. These items were donated to AASC two years ago when the state purchased the Falls Mills Fishing Club property where the playset was situated.
The town owns other parks but they don’t offer accessibility for multigenerational users or individuals with disabilities. Rocky Hill of God’s Rockstars rallied community volunteers to assist in painting existing equipment and constructing a wheelchair slide and other enhancements to the park that are suitable for older residents, families with young children and everyone in between of any ability. For older adults, exercise has been shown to strengthen social ties and improve cognitive function, and the park provides residents an opportunity to build cohesion in the neighborhood.
AASC’s group certainly enjoyed their day by testing out the equipment, enjoying a hotdog lunch and culminating the fun with a foam party. One older adult said, “I had the best day,” while another said, “This is the best park I’ve ever been to.”
Even as an older adult, you should never stop having fun and there was plenty for everyone at the new “Fit for Life Park.”