This spotlight first appeared in the Health Foundation’s 2020 Annual Report.
The Health Foundation’s focus on helping older adults live healthy, independent lives in their communities took on new meaning during 2020. The COVID-19 virus was especially dangerous for older people, and social distancing methods, while necessary for stemming the spread of the pandemic, put them at a greater risk for social isolation. The work of our partners in the community who are seeking to address these issues was more important than ever.
Located in Utica, the Parkway Center has been providing programs and services to individuals ages 50+ for over 60 years. From health and wellness to social and recreational activities, Parkway’s programming empowers its participants to live healthy and vibrant lives.
For community-based organizations like Parkway, the pandemic presented a number of challenges. “At Parkway, we provide access to programs that ensure health and wellness to participants to remain independent as long as possible,” says Kelly Walters, Executive Director of Parkway Center. “Socialization keeps older adults healthy both mentally and physically, and the fitness program is a key component to what we do.”
In order to meet those needs in a safe and virtual way, the Parkway team developed and launched a series of virtual program offerings, including Zoom workshops and support groups, as well as a YouTube channel to provide on-demand fitness classes. A grant from the Health Foundation is enabling Parkway to continue enhancing and expanding their online offerings to ensure the health and wellness needs of their members are met throughout the pandemic and beyond.
“We have an 85-year-old member who could email but wasn’t sure how exactly to use Zoom [for our virtual fitness sessions],” says Kelly. “The more virtual sessions we had, the easier it came to her. Now she rushes off the phone with her daughter so that she can log on to Zoom for any of our virtual sessions!”
That member became so comfortable with her new virtual reality that she now leads a crafting class for Parkway via Zoom.
Parkway continues to find creative and innovative ways to connect as many people to programs as they can. That connection leaves a lasting impact on the health and well-being of its members, helping them live healthy, active and independent lives.