Sound Steps participants end spring with 17,000 miles walked

Sound Steps spring training team

Sound Steps spring training team

Ninety-degree heat can’t stop dedicated fitness fanatics. Last month Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Sounds Steps spring training program concluded with two events, the Lake Union Loop and the Walk of champions. Dozens of participants completed the half marathon events under the sun.

Sound Steps is one of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s most popular Lifelong Recreation programs. The group gets together multiple times each month for five- to six-mile fitness walks in different Seattle neighborhoods. More than 100 participants ages 50+ trained throughout the spring to walk up to a half marathon. Collectively, the trainees walked roughly 17,000 miles from February to June. The group celebrated with a luncheon at Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center on July 11.

Seattle Parks expands programs for special populations with 2015 Park District funding

Though 2015 is considered a ramp-up year for the Park District, (2016 being the first year that the District collects property taxes) Seattle Parks and Recreation has already implemented two new exciting community programs.

Using ramp-year funding, Seattle Parks was able to hire a half-time Recreation Specialist to officially launch its dementia-friendly programming citywide. Cayce Cheairs started with Seattle Parks in January and has since led excursions and classes for seniors all over the city.

Seattle Parks launched dementia-friendly programming in 2015 with the support of Park District funds.

“I am excited that our city is undergoing a transformation to become a dementia-friendly and inclusive community and I’m thrilled that our city government is onboard.” Cheairs said. “Our Parks and Recreation department is unique in the nation with the launch of dementia-friendly recreation, and we already are serving as a model to other cities. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with and collaborate with inspiring and fearless community members and mutually-supportive and creative community organizations. I’m especially excited for opportunities to connect with and learn from our community members living with memory loss.”

So far this year, dementia-friendly recreation participants have had the opportunity to participate in Arts in the Park watercolor painting at Golden Gardens, guided fitness walks and an annual talent show among other things. Cheairs said her goal for the remainder of the year is to connect with Seattle senior centers, develop partnerships and spread the word about these programs in Seattle’s communities.

“In order to best serve ‘all citizens’ as our Parks and Recreation mission proposes, we are adjusting and expanding our programs so that all community members indeed have ‘safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, contemplate, and build community,’ including members living with memory loss,” Cheairs said. “This, we believe, enriches the whole community.”

Specialized Programs added an extra week of summer camp using 2015 Park District ramp-up funds.

In addition to dementia-friendly recreation, Seattle Parks and Recreation is able to add an additional week of youth overnight summer camp this year for its Specialized Programs unit, which serves youth with disabilities. The extra week of camp will allow the department to serve 60 more campers.

In 2013, one of the most popular comments on a departmental community survey was a request for more camp opportunities. Parents told Specialized Programs leaders that they are grateful to have more opportunities for their children.

“Camp is a magical place for the campers because it allows them to have the same summer experience as their peers,” Recreation Leader Kyle Bywater said. “It is a place where parents feel safe to send their children because staff are fully trained. Campers get to make new friends, sing songs, play games, do crafts and enjoy entertainment every day. Camp is also special for parents as it gives them some respite. Some parents have never left their children with anyone overnight, so it gives them nights to relax as well.”

For more information on the Park District, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/seattle-park-district.

Seattle Parks launches dementia-friendly recreation in 2015

Dementia-friendly recreation participants and supporters dine at China Harbor on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

 

Greenwood Senior Center staff member Cayce Cheairs stood before dozens of Seattle seniors at Seattle Parks and Recreation’s dementia-friendly programming “Momentia!” kickoff on Tuesday, Jan. 27, and asked them what they wished for in the coming year.

Seattle Parks Recreation Specialist Mari Becker, left

More longs walks, replied one man. More dancing, said a woman. More time with the people here in this room, said another.

“Can you feel the hope in the room?” Cheairs asked the crowd.

Seattle Parks created a pilot program for dementia-friendly recreation in 2014 in response to the growing number of community members living with memory loss and the firm belief that people living with memory loss should remain a vital part of our community. This January marked the program’s official launch.

“We’re taking something that’s traditionally only been offered through medical facilities and we’re looking at it differently,” said Cheryl Brown, a member of Seattle Parks Lifelong Recreation staff.

Dementia-friendly recreation participants and supporters dance at the 2015 “Momentia!” event kickoff.

Seattle Parks is one of the few Parks and Recreation departments in the country that has taken the discussion of memory loss from simple informational classes to embracing opportunities for connection, creativity, giving back and being active. Last year, “Momentia” participants joined in snow shoeing field trips, volunteering at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands and Cherry Street Food Bank, overnight camp at West Seattle’s Camp Long, watercolor painting, walks at the Japanese Garden and Woodland Park Zoo, Mariners’ games and more.

With the official launch of the program in 2015, Seattle Parks is working with a variety of local partners to offer more engaging programs.

The “Momentia” kickoff celebration was held at Lake Union’s China Harbor Restaurant and included an improv theater experience from Taproot Theatre Company, a musical performance from the Greenwood Senior Center’s Gathering Place program members and karaoke.

“Momentia is all about a celebration of life,” Lifelong Recreation Specialist Mari Becker said. “It’s about people saying we’re still here, and we have gifts to give the community.”

Becker spearheaded Seattle Parks’ dementia-friendly recreation effort. She said she wanted to change the story surrounding memory loss from one of fear to one of hope.

“Mari has a kind heart and a bright spirit,” dementia-friendly recreation participant Paul Padilla said. “This program has made our journey so much easier to travel.”

As Seattle Parks starts programming this year, the activities will be mainly geared toward persons living with Early Stage Memory Loss. Friends and family are also welcome to get involved and staff can help determine which programs might be a good fit within Seattle Parks’ offerings and among the other options available in the community.

For more information on dementia-friendly recreation, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Seniors/dementiafriendlyrecreation.htm.

Parks to host Momentia! event to support dementia-friendly community

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, Seattle Parks and Recreation invites persons living with dementia, family, friends and all who support a dementia-friendly community to the 2015 Momentia! New Year Celebration at China Harbor restaurant.

The Momentia! New Year Celebration will offer refreshments, drinks, musical entertainment, dancing and karaoke. To register, call Cheryl Brown, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 206-386-9106 before Jan. 23. Tickets cost $12.

Seattle Parks and Recreation piloted dementia-friendly recreation in 2014 in response to the growing number of community members living with memory loss and the firm belief that people living with memory loss should remain a vital part of our community.

With the official launch of the program in 2015, we are working with a variety of local partners to offer engaging programs like watercolor painting in the park, walks at the zoo, volunteering at the food bank, and more. As we get started, our programs are mainly geared toward persons living with Early Stage Memory Loss. Friends and family are also welcome to get involved. We’re glad to help determine which programs might be a good fit, within our own offerings and among the other options available in the community.

There will be limited van transportation to the event available from Greenwood Senior Center and Rainier Community Center. Reserve a seat when you register for the event. Sponsors include Greenwood Senior Center, Full Life Care and CareForce.

For more information on dementia-friendly recreation, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Seniors/dementiafriendlyrecreation.htm.

 

Staying fit and social with Seattle Parks Sound Striders

The South Sound Striders tour the South Lake Union neighborhood on Oct. 23.

 

At 7:45 a.m. on a dark, rainy Thursday, Julie Leighton and Bev Corwin sat inside a coffee shop in South Lake Union waiting for a Sound Striders guided walk to begin. Despite the stormy weather, the women were certain their empty table would soon be full of people clad in rain jackets and hats. By 8 a.m., nearly 40 people crowded the café.

Sound Striders is one of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s most popular Lifelong Recreation programs. A few years ago, community member Nancy Olsen and a few of her friends started training to walk a half marathon. After they completed the race, they didn’t want to stop walking together, so they continued the sport. Olsen owned a bookstore on Bainbridge Island and was a natural-born researcher. She began planning walks for the group that incorporated historical landmarks and points of interest. Soon the group struck a partnership with Seattle Parks, and the Sound Striders group was born.

“We didn’t want our half marathon training to go to waste, so we started walking Thursday mornings,” Karin Queen said, one of the group’s original members. “Now it’s kind of exploded. We walk rain or shine. We’ve only canceled twice for snow.”

Sound Striders get together multiple times each month for five- to six-mile fitness walks in different Seattle neighborhoods. There are two groups, the North Sound Striders who walk on Tuesdays, and the South Sound Striders who walk on Thursdays. The groups meet at 8 a.m. for coffee and then head out. The events have drawn numerous people, with the most popular walk topping out at 58.

Walk leader Craig Shumate addresses the South Sound Striders.

“We get to explore different neighborhoods and see things we wouldn’t notice when driving through,” Leighton said. “The walks are just long enough to get some exercise, but they’re not too strenuous.”

Corwin said that she feels like she has more energy after joining the group.

“I feel overall healthier,” she said. “It’s gotten easier for me to walk the amount of mileage.”

Besides the fitness benefits, many members of the group joined to socialize. Member Nancy Shumate moved to Seattle from New York and said she enjoyed meeting new people through Sound Striders.

“Staying social is important as you retire and get older and begin to switch lives,” Shumate said. “It made it moving here less of an adjustment. The other members gave me recommendations for activities and taught me how to navigate the city like a local.”

The group’s walk on Thursday, Oct. 23, led them through South Lake Union. The guide, Craig Shumate, pointed out places like the old Troy Laundry building, Tilikum Place, Denny and Bell Street Parks and the St. Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral.

The Sound Striders will continue their walks throughout December. The North Sound Striders have their next event on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in Montlake, and the South Sound Striders will be heading to Georgetown on Thursday, Oct. 30.

To see the full schedules and meeting locations, visit http://seattlesoundsteps.wordpress.com/sound-striders/.