Picture this: more than 200 senior citizens WALKING from Honolulu to Philadelphia! Okay… maybe that’s not humanly possible, but that was idea behind the Amazing Race at three of Liberty Lutheran’s senior communities.
Residents at Paul’s Run, Artman and the Village at Penn State kicked off the Amazing Race walking challenge in August, featuring four weeks of activities to inspire residents to get moving. Each week featured a different virtual destination. Residents “walked” from Honolulu to Dallas, then to New Orleans, and back to Philadelphia.
The program was designed by Gina Formica, Director of the Becoming Center, Liberty’s health and wellness center for older adults, and Jennifer Conway, Resident Wellness Coordinator at the Becoming Center, as a way to get residents moving.
Each resident set off with a specific walking goal depending on their physical ability and health conditions. For some, it is a matter of increasing the number of steps. Others count their progress in miles. But the bottom line is for them to be more active, Jennifer says.
“Bob, an 83-year old resident at Artman, started out walking only 75 feet. By the fourth week, he was walking 200 to 250 each time,” she says.
The Amazing Race theme was also incorporated into dining services and community life departments at the three communities to keep the residents engaged and encouraged to continue with the walking. Such activities included a Hawaiian-themed party with hula hoops and leis, a Mardi Gras mask-making session, dance lessons, and trivia and crossword puzzle games.
“Each week the residents were physically able to walk further and with more ease,” reports Rachel Heyer, Resident Wellness Coach at Paul’s Run. “All of the residents reached their personal goals,” she added.
April Salinas, Fitness Coach at the Village at Penn State says, “It definitely inspired residents to pay more attention to the role that walking and exercise plays in their life and to enjoy it.”
Residents reached their final destination of Philadelphia on Friday, August 29, and from all accounts it was the crowning moment of the Amazing Race. Celebrations included visits from the mummers and the Philly Phanatic.
“It was great seeing the residents achieve or exceed their goals, making them happy and bringing joy to their day,” Jennifer says. “That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”