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'Friends of Manchester' Work with Residents of Timbercrest  
Kate Rosenbaum
Staff Writer

Manchester students “fit” right in when they brought a fitness program to senior citizens. Members of the January session class “Aging Health and Wellness” participated in “Friends of Manchester,” which is a way for past and present Manchester students to connect with one another while also gaining knowledge on the fitness of older adults.  Current Manchester students traveled to Timbercrest Senior Living Community on a daily basis in order to work with residents and place a focus on intergenerational learning. 

Retired Professor Lana Groombridge started the class and it has continued to grow  with Dr. Kim Duchane currently in charge. “Mostly, one of our mission statements is about serving,” he said. “We are a service department.   What do I have to give back? A listening ear…  A touch on the shoulder…”

The class was held at Timbercrest for several hours in the morning. Residents and current students would gather in the workout room and go through a wide range of work out exercise routines in order to help keep the residents healthy and in shape.

“They took us by surprise how active they were,” said Jack Lowe, a sophomore and a fitness/recreation major. “I think of the elderly as more physically fit now.  Old people are awesome.”  An instructor would lead the class through various exercises, ranging from stretching to dance and aerobics.  There were videos and tape recordings used in order to instruct the workout group, as well.

 “I usually sit way on one end and it makes me feel so happy to see the young and the older together,” said Elsie Barrett, a Timbercrest resident, a frequent member of the workout group and a “Friends of Manchester” participant.

 After the workouts were completed for the morning, students and residents were paired with one another for a one-on-one discussion on various gerontological topics ranging from how to stay healthy to medical care to the personal lives of the senior citizens.  Deidra Martin, a senior and an exercise science major, said that she vividly remembers the motto of the resident she was paired with during her time at Timbercrest: “I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, and I don’t go with the girls that do.” 

This January session experience also focused on understanding the connection between physical fitness and the aging person. Grant Newlin, a sophomore and a health and physical education major, said that he was able to relate to how different some exercises would be because senior citizens are unable to move as well as when they were younger.  Hearing their input about the workout and whether the residents enjoyed it or had trouble helped him understand the connection between physical fitness and the elderly individual.

Duchane stated that the point of the course was for students to gain more knowledge on the health content, which can be done with the aid of the senior citizens and then applying it to the greater population.  Deidra Martin’s benefits went beyond the Timbercrest classroom. “Anybody that is looking for volunteer hours do it over there,” she said. “They’ll get to meet amazing people.  They act as young as we are.”

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