The Lewis County Senior Center in Weston, West Virginia, has been a community hub for seniors and individuals with disabilities since 1971, providing a place to gather, share meals, and access services that support their independence, health, and well-being.
The most recent addition to the center’s services is its Senior S.K.I.P. (Still Keeping It Physical) Program, which was funded by a $5,049.25 Healthy Communities grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon in 2022. The program consisted of three events: a Senior S.K.I.P. Day tournament, a Zumba Gold-A-Thon, and a 5K Walk/Run.
“The Still Keeping It Physical program has allowed us to see the importance of healthy, active programming for older adults, and the fun that comes with it,” said Sarah Campbell, Health Program Officer with the Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon. “Being able to work with the Lewis County Senior Center and seeing the passion they have for their community has been a joy.”
Kim Harrison-Edwards, Assistant Director at the Lewis County Senior Center, said the new and existing physical activity programs at the center have helped many participants lose weight and improve their health conditions.
“One lady reported she has lost and kept off over 30 pounds since beginning the programs,” Harrison-Edwards said. “One person had recurring issues with sciatica, which has greatly improved with the exercise. Just this week, another participant was sharing that she has had years of arthritis and other issues resulting in limited mobility. She reports that after her last doctor’s appointment, he could not believe the change in her and encouraged her to keep up the good work!”
The center’s first S.K.I.P. event, Senior S.K.I.P. Day, took place July 23, 2022, at the Lewis County Park with 76 people from six counties registered to participate. The S.K.I.P. Day tournament included cornhole, basketball shooting, disc golf, table tennis, and badminton competitions, and ended with an awards ceremony for participants.
In September, the center welcomed 40 seniors from three counties to its second S.K.I.P. event, a Zumba Gold-a-Thon. Activities included Zumba Gold dancing, Latin dancing with maracas, food, games, and prizes. The success of the event led the center to continue offering Zumba Gold classes for seniors.
“The addition of Zumba Gold has had a very positive impact on the fitness level of those already participating in some of our other classes because it is more intense,” said Belinda Lewis, Activities Director at the Lewis County Senior Center. “I have witnessed more weight loss and greater exercise endurance in many of the participants. Since we continued to offer this to the community after the Zumba Gold-a-Thon, it has drawn many people who had not utilized the senior center prior.”
“This physical fitness programming has brought new faces and breathed new life into our operations,” Harrison-Edwards said. “We definitely have a momentum going that is getting seniors thinking about living their best years healthier and more active.”
The Senior S.K.I.P. Program concluded Oct. 22 with 12 seniors participating in a 5K Walk/Run on the campus of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston.
The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon has partnered with the Lewis County Senior Center since its first grant award in 2019 for a computer classroom upgrade. The $2,730 grant replaced five existing computers at the center. Harrison-Edwards said the computers enable seniors to complete tasks online with assistance from staff.
“Seniors feel welcome to use the computers whenever they like,” Harrison-Edwards said. “They often write correspondence, check emails and bank balances, and do internet searches. They feel comfortable doing these tasks because they know if they get ‘stuck,’ there is always staff available to help them.”
The Foundation also provided two additional Healthy Communities grants to the senior center in 2020 and 2021 to fund its nutrition program. The funds were especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic when the center had to modify its program to include grab-and-go and home-delivered meals.
“Pallottine grant funding has helped us address hunger – ensuring that the center can meet the demand for service without having to initiate waiting lists,” said Kim Harrison-Edwards. “These grants have helped us improve our service delivery to seniors with support and encouragement from the Foundation team to carry out our goals.”
For more information about the Lewis County Senior Center, visit www.lcseniorcenter.org.