Mintie Hoskins had one very succinct piece of advice for everyone at the 16th Annual Seniors’ Sports Carnival on Friday, 27 September.
“Go for it, mate!” Mintie says between events.
“At our age, it’s important just to be together and to mix with other people, instead of sitting in your bedroom like fish.”
Mintie was one of about 130 participants from 13 aged care facilities across Canberra and the surrounding region. They gave it a go, all right!
Organised by the YMCA Canberra, the sports carnival consisted of modified sporting events held in a friendly competitive atmosphere at the Australian National University’s Dave Cocking Sports Centre, where the only qualification was that you’re still young at heart.
The participants were aided by students from the University of Canberra who ran training programs for eight weeks leading up to the carnival. High school students from St Francis Xavier College provided support, further enhancing the intergenerational engagement of younger and older adults.
“Social isolation is becoming a serious problem in Australia, particularly within our most vulnerable communities,” says YMCA Canberra CEO Torrien Lau.
“The Seniors’ Sports Carnival is a great event to not only improve older adults’ physical skills but provide an opportunity for both the older adults and youth to engage in their community and consolidate their sense of belonging amongst their peers.”
IRT Kangara Waters at Lake Ginninderra defended last year’s champion’s trophy while personal honours were hotly contested in the individual events of hot potato, cannonball, javelin, target game, rob the nest and wheelchair obstacle races.
Awards were also handed out for best hair or hat, and the best-decorated wheelchair.
Of course, it wasn’t about winning.
Mr Lau said the carnival connects people of all ages.
“If you look around the room, I reckon you will see four if not five generations of people. We have great grandparents right down to the great-grandchildren all participating and connecting on one level,” Mr Lau told Region Media.
“I think the younger kids are getting as much benefit from the interaction as the elderly people who have the wisdom and experience of our community.
“We should be tapping into that wisdom instead of putting our elderly in isolation from the rest of the community.
“Some of the people here are still very competitive, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but really it’s all about participation and just having a go,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation James Milligan MLA praised the YMCA for bridging the gap between the generations.
“We need to provide more support for organisations like the YMCA to put on these types of events,” Mr Milligan said.
“We all understand how beneficial it is to be physically active as well as mentally active, and this is a perfect example of what we need to do as a society. In years to come, there’s going to be even more need for these types of services.
“It’s all about movement for life.”