It has been a year since the decision to close the Silver Threads operation at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre was announced. This choice did not come easily. Specializing in programming for seniors, their absence would be felt by many in the community. Recognizing the importance of the work that Silver Threads did, the Parks & Recreation management team committed themselves to finding a home for the displaced members. This meant an expansion of program offerings to include more classes designed for the interests of the mature adult. In order to fill this void, steps were taken to hire a programmer whose primary function was to develop social and fitness activities for adults of all ages. Melissa McHugh was brought on in April 2008 to fill this role. While excited by the possibilities of her new position, McHugh remembers the hurdles she had to overcome. In her words, “One of the challenges was maintaining the sense of place and belonging that Silver Threads offered its members.”
In the past year, Ms. McHugh has achieved the goal of integrating the pre-existing 50+ programs into the Parks and Recreation adult program line up. The assimilation of these programs has meant that the legacy of Silver Threads will live on. The roll out of the new adult program schedule, April 1, 2009 features activities for all ages and abilities. For former Silver Threads members as well as newcomers, it means they will get more choice for less money. “Participants can swim, skate, take part in fitness classes as well as social activities and special events and they can do it all with or without a membership.” Adult Programmer, Melissa McHugh
This is only the beginning. The consequences of a rapidly aging population are only now coming to light. The growing numbers of baby boomers will impact the way fitness and recreation centres do business. Facilities must respond to this demographic shift in a proactive way. As such, Esquimalt Parks & Recreation will continue to focus their efforts on increasing their service delivery to seniors to ensure that they are meeting the needs of this ever increasing population.
For more information please contact:
Melissa McHugh, Adult Programmer
Township of Esquimalt