On a Monday morning in the early spring, participants, funders, coaches and coordinators, mingled in the Revelstoke Community Centre. They were there to celebrate the end of the last session of the Together in Movement and Exercise (TIME) program.
TIME, a program geared towards people with mobility challenges, has been offered in Revelstoke for three years. Recently, Meghan MacIsaac, Recreation Facility and Program Director for the Revelstoke Community Center, secured funding for the program to both continue and grow.
That morning while enjoying coffee and croissants, I meet Peter Sutherland, the program’s very first participant. At the time, Peter was referred to the program by Dr. MacDonald. “I was having trouble with my legs, and the Dr. told me there was a new program starting and he was going to recommend me for it,” says Peter.
While a pamphlet now used to advertise the program shows Peter with a smile on his face and a leg pointed out behind him at the barre, it didn’t start that way.
Peter was, he says, less than thrilled about attending. “I visualized a bunch of chairs in a circle and old people hitting balloons back and forth giggling,” he says. “I made up my mind I wouldn’t like it before I went. But then, after about three or four classes, I would never have quit.”
It has been three years since that first session, and Peter is still there. “I love the program, I’ll be back in the fall,” he says. “It’s fun and beneficial. I have arthritis in my legs, and it isn’t going to get better, but when I leave a session I feel like I’ve exercised and it’s a good feeling. I can walk better. And I get out and meet people.”
Peter believes that social component is as important as the physical one. “There is a small core group of us that show up all of the time,” he explains. “We joke and tease one another and wise crack. We have a lot of fun.”
Peter ended up enjoying the program so much he told his friends about it. “I knew nothing about it until Peter told me about it,” says Cyril Keats, another attendee. “I’m glad he did.”
Don Crawford enjoys the class so much he had himself a shirt made up that reads ‘Get fit, Stay fit. Seniors Division’.
“I wear it to every class,” he laughs. “I thought everyone else was going to want one, but they cheaped out.”
Don, who was referred to the program, plans to attend again in the fall.
“If I’m still around I’ll be here too,” quips Cyril.
Most of the time, Don uses two walking poles to aid in his mobility. Cyril points out that they have small flashlights attached to them.
“It’s for night driving,” laughs Don.
The camaraderie between the men is palpable as they tease each other.
For the coaches Janna Jones, Chantal Faucher, and Neil Jones, it’s good to see.
“Being part of this program was an easy choice,” says Jaana. “You can really see the moods change. People leave happier, moving better and feeling better.”
The coaches focus on positive reinforcement and motivation as well as both the mental and physical well being of the participants.
“When people are having constant pain signals, pain becomes dominant in their life,” says Neil. “If we can take that away for an hour and give them a break from that pain, then that’s fantastic.”
All the coaches are eager for the fall, when the next session will start. They hope to keep attracting more people into to the program and are excited to brainstorm what they can offer in the anticipated ‘graduated’ program, which will offer more mobile participants like Peter new challenges.
Chantal, who has been a seniors aerobics and aquafit instructor for fifteen years, has found many of the participants in her other classes come and volunteer at the TIME sessions. “My aquafit ladies come, including Chris Meade, Elizabeth Poarch and Nancy Parrott, to help out” she says. The volunteers are, all the coaches agree, a huge help.
After three years, the grant that originally funded the program has been spent. A Columbia Basin Trust grant was secured to help with the next sessions expenses. Megan approached two local organizations, the Revelstoke and District Health Foundation and the Hospital Auxiliary Society, and they have stepped up to ensure the program continues.
For Revelstoke and District Health Foundation representative Margaret Zielonka, deciding to help fund the program was an easy choice.
“But then,” she notes, “I am a retired physiotherapist so I see the value in keeping up your strength and balance. Otherwise you are a higher risk of falls.”
The board of directors for the foundation discussed funding the program for “about two minutes,” she laughs.
Hospital Auxiliary Society representative Nancy Martin notes it was similar story at her end. “The mandate is to support anything to do with health in the community,” she explains. “In a small community like this, it’s easy to coordinate and collaborate on something that follows both of their mandates.”
The TIME program initially came to Revelstoke thanks to a series of serendipitous occurrences. Back in 2015, Rubyanne Meda at Revelstoke Interior Health attended a symposium in Kelowna.
“It was all about looking at community partnerships from a physiotherapy perspective, and the TIME program was one that was presented. I thought, wow, that would be really great to have something like that in Revelstoke,” she says.
Rubyanne got in touch with Jill Zackarias, Social Development Coordinator for City of Revelstoke.
“Not a week prior that, Meghan Macisaac had called me wanting to know about programming gaps in the community and how Parks and Recreation could help. So one one hand I had Rubyanne with a program and on the other Meghan wanting to know programming gaps,” explains Jill.
The last piece of the puzzle was covering the cost to purchase the licensed program as well as train and pay instructors. Jill successfully applied for a community Age Friendly grant. One of Jill’s focuses is providing programming in the community that supports seniors to age in place. TIME was a perfect fit.
With the new funding Meghan has secured the TIME program, after just celebrating three years of encouraging mobility and fitness, is going to allow the program to both continue and grow. The participants are thrilled about it.
“I’ll be here,” says Peter, as Don and Cyril nod in agreement.
If you or someone you know could benefit from TIME, or are interested in taking part, contact Meghan MacIsaac at the Revelstoke Community Centre.