Kaua‘i kupuna getting fit for O‘bon season

A program aimed at improving the health of Kaua‘i’s kupuna was selected as a 2008 Older Americans Month Program Champion by the U.S. Administration on Aging. The program is being spotlighted on AoA’s Web site, aoa.gov/press/oam/May_2008/program_champions.asp along with other senior programs in celebration of May’s being Older Americans Month. Participants in the low-impact and strength-training programs have already reported tremendous improvement in their health and energy levels since the program was launched last July, noted Naomi Sugihara, AoA program specialist. The average age of participants in the program is 79.9 years.

“A woman who recently turned 90 shared that she had stopped participating in O-Bon dances for a few years because she didn’t have the stamina and energy to dance,” Sugihara said. “But after taking part in our Enhance Fitness program she was able to get back into dancing. In fact, she danced for an entire evening during the last O-Bon dance at her church.”

Currently, Kaua‘i’s Enhance Fitness program is offered to seniors 60 years and older at the Koloa and Waimea neighborhood centers.

“We are honored to be recognized for our Enhance Fitness program, which aims to empower our older residents to make lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of disease, disability and injury,” said head of the Agency on Elderly Affairs Kealoha Takahashi.

Classes are held three days a week at each of the centers and are taught by certified fitness instructors.

“Right now, these classes are filled to capacity so we have a waiting list of interested seniors,” said Sugihara. “In about a month, we will be expanding the program to include the Hanapepe Multi-purpose Building and Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

Hawai‘i is one of 16 states that received a grant from the U.S. Administration on Aging to develop programs that empower older adults to take control of their health. The statewide initiative is called Healthy Aging Partnership n Empowering Elders.

On Kaua‘i, the Enhance Fitness program is being offered by the Agency on Elderly Affairs in collaboration with several organizations.

• For more information, call the Agency on Elderly Affairs at 241-4470 or KEO at 245-4077, ext. 242.

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