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Seniors well represented in Kawerau submissions
27 May 2014

AN outdoor gym to help elderly residents exercise was one submission considered by Kawerau District Council recently.  Measures to accommodate Kawerau’s older residents were discussed during a council meeting last week, when submissions were heard on the town’s draft annual plan.

Seniors United to Promote Age-Friendly NZ representative Judy Lamont said in a written submission Kawerau had a very good ageing strategy.  She said it was important council and community note Kawerau’s rapidly ageing population.

SUPANZ national convenor Carole Gordon talked to councillors about an Elder Outdoor Gym project included in the submission.  “First we wanted to say ‘Hey Kawerau you are doing so well’,” she said.  The population in New Zealand is ageing and towns such as Kawerau needed to start planning for this, she said.

She asked council to collaborate with SUPANZ to establish an Elder Outdoor Gym, at an estimated cost of $23,375 plus GST.  The outdoor equipment was designed to maintain muscular skeletal strength and contribute to the health and wellbeing of elderly residents.  The project would provide a “destination” for walking groups and provide a location for socialising.

Key advocates of the gym including Sport Bay of Plenty, YMCA, Lions, Probus, and National Council of Women.  The project was modelled on Japanese outdoor fitness gyms and 15,000 have been established by local governments in Japan. They were also successful in Britain, Europe, and Australia.

SUPANZ was also supportive of the Virtual Retirement Village concept being developed by other groups.  Kawerau Enterprise Agency executive director Helen Stewart said in her submission councillors and staff understood the impact of ageing on the community.  They were actively engaged with the town’s positive ageing strategy, seniors’ forum, and healthy homes project, she said.  The ageing sector appeared to be excluded from the activities section under Economic and Community Develop in the draft plan, she said.  “We would like this large sector of the population reflected in the annual plans and longer term planning,” she said.  The council had a wealth of information about demographic changes and the town was fortunate to have excellent connectivity, collaboration and networks already in place, she said.  KEA was part of a group with an interested in exploring the concept of a Virtual Retirement Village in Kawerau, which would enable people to remain in their own homes instead of moving into a residential village.

The meeting also considered a written submission from the Kawerau Senior’s Forum secretary Anita Moore.  She said the council should consider the fiscal or physical impact of community issues and projects on the town’s elder residents.  “Another concern is that Kawerau is an ageing population with more residents each year becoming reliant on fixed financial income,” she said.  Some issues which concerned forum included uneven footpaths and roadside curb access for residents with mobility issues.  “Council should consider a Disability Strategy to sit alongside their Positive Ageing Strategy.”  She also asked for the forum to have closer communication with council on their Aging Strategy to ensure both groups were “singing from the same songsheet”.

ENDS

Source: Whakatane Beacon

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