B.C. SENIORS KEEP MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY FIT
While London is hosting the Olympics, athletes of a different kind will be preparing for their big events to take place here in British Columbia. If you were unaware that the B.C. Seniors Games will be taking place in Burnaby, August 21-25, you are not alone. Anne Maylin-Lee, a representative of the Seniors Games, feels that the events don’t always get the attention that they deserve. Although the Seniors Games are more widely publicized this year than ever, they are not usually well attended by spectators (beyond friends, family, and a few from the local community.) It may very well reflect a long-standing attitude that senior athletes aren’t as important or as exciting to watch as younger ones. Thankfully, this attitude is changing. The provincial government has taken notice of the Games and now providing much welcome funding, and TV Week magazine has been providing ongoing advertising in order to lure more people to attend this August.
The B.C. Seniors Games consist of 26 events, and there is a category for virtually every senior who wishes to compete. While some of the events, such as soccer and tennis are for the physically honed and seasoned, other events provide challenges for mental athletes. By including such games as cribbage and whist, the organizers have ensured that anyone 55 and older can compete this summer, regardless of physical limitations, injuries or disabilities. Some events are more popular than others, and therefore more competitive, requiring some level of qualification prior to the Games. The variety of sports and games, including the different levels of competitiveness, means that virtually any senior can be involved. This is crucial, because the Games provide an important way for participants to exercise their bodies and brains, and therefore stay healthier longer.
Not to be forgotten is also the social aspect of the games, another important factor in overall health. Participants are finding that involvement in the Games can help them live life more fully. Those involved in the Games have opportunities to travel to smaller towns and form important friendships with others as they compete in different events. These friendships range from casual, to the formation of deep and important bonds which last a lifetime. Therefore, even if the Games are not as widely noticed by the public, its participants are making meaningful connections with each other – an aspect of health which is highly recognized in research concerning health and aging.
The future of the B.C. Seniors Games looks promising in this, their 25th year anniversary. The administration is being streamlined so that the Games will run more smoothly from year to year with the proposed creation of a legacy for the Seniors Games Society. In addition, the provincial government appears committed to investing in the health of seniors in B.C., something which is becoming even more important as our population ages and we are living much longer. B.C. seniors are healthier and fitter than ever, becoming involved in sports, physical, and social activities at both younger and more advanced ages. As we recognize the importance of physical and social engagement to our health, we are coming up with more innovative and creative ways to find activities for which we have passion. This enthusiasm should become obvious to those both young and older, an aspect which bodes well for the future of the B.C. Seniors Games.