You are here

Arrowsmith community empowers women through fun, dynamic and accessible fitness initiative

“Sole” Sisters Program provides women aged 55+ with opportunity to embrace healthy living through sport and physical activity

Girls and women make up over half of our population in British Columbia. Over the next 23 years, the female senior population is projected to make up a quarter of this group1.  As females from the baby boom era reach their senior years there is a demand for programs that help support our aging community to stay healthy and active.

In January of 2014, the Arrowsmith community of B.C. will be implementing a new program geared towards females aged 55 and older.  The “Sole” Sisters fitness program will be launched with a goal to help women aged 55+ lead active, healthy lifestyles and create a positive outlook on dynamic aging in today’s society.
 

Breaking barriers to participation for women in a rural B.C. community

The Arrowsmith community, a geographically expansive area with many remote locations, is located on Vancouver Island, B.C. and consists of five neighbourhoods: Errington, Coombs, Hilliers, Whiskey Creek and Meadowood. This rural community has no public transportation, makes accessing recreation programs difficult for many women.

Partnering with the Arrowsmith Community Enhancement Society (ACES), Kickstart Fitness and other community and activity based organizations in the area, the Arrowsmith Recreation Team created the “Sole” Sisters 10 week activity program for women over 55 years of age that live in these neighbourhoods.

Image of a wooden arch in the rural neighbourhood of Errington

The program will be centrally located in Arrowsmith and registration will be affordable to participants. Tackling the lack of transportation in the area, the program also offers to help organize carpooling for women that register.

 “Sole” Sisters will offer women the opportunity to build a fitness base each week, with a progressive strength, stretch and stride program. Following the “functional” fitness workout, a local female coach/instructor will be invited each week to introduce the women to a new sport or fitness program, including Zumba, yoga, badminton, Nordic walking, power walking and hula hooping. The women will be encouraged to try the sample activity, ask questions and become motivated to join one of the programs.

The rural neighbourhood of Errington

In addition, a nutritionist will come in each week with health-conscious snacks to educate the group on the benefits of healthy diets.

After activity and education, the group will dedicate time to mingle and socialize. The friendships and confidence established in this program will be the catalyst for a spring “Sole” Sisters fitness walking program, which will continue to support the women to stay active and connected in their community.

 

FAB 55+ grant funding provides support for launching the “Sole” Sisters program

“Sole” Sisters, initiated by the Arrowsmith Recreation Team, is one of 4 programs that have been selected to receive up to $2,000 through the FAB (Forever Active Bodies) 55+ grant this fall. Founded by ProMOTION Plus and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) and administered by viaSport, the FAB 55+ grant provides funding for programs specifically geared towards getting senior women active and participating in sport.

In conjuction with the Girls Only grant, the FAB 55+ grant is funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of BC through the BC Sport Participation Program (BCSPP).
 

 “Sole” Sisters will bring empowerment and confidence to women aged 55 and above

The “Sole” Sisters program is a great example of an initiative that helps minimize barriers and increase participation of women aged 55+ in sport and fitness to promote lifelong activity. Launching for the first time in 2014, this program hopes to lay the foundation for years to come.

Kim Longmuir, Arrowsmith activity coordinator and instructor for “Ready Set Run” programs in the community, has observed and felt the confidence and camaraderie that senior women gain through programs like “Sole” Sisters.

“In my Learn to Run programs, many women started out in baggy cotton clothing, some having never worn a pair a shorts,” said Kim. “All ended up leaving decked out in head-to-toe running gear, wearing the tin foil medals I had made them, saying, “I Am a Runner”. “Sole” Sisters will give sole and soul to many women over 55, living in the isolated rural community of Arrowsmith, by welcoming them to a safe and respectful program - no matter their sport or fitness experience.”

The Arrowsmith Recreation Team hopes to inspire other communities to create similar programs to target the influx of women aged 55+ that may not otherwise have the access, experience or knowledge to get involved.

 

For further questions about the “Sole” Sisters program, please contact Kim Longmuir at ranlong@telus.net.

 

For more feature stories by viaSport, visit our website or follow us on Twitter @viaSport_ #INSPIREviaSport

 

1. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/2010001/article/11475-eng.htm