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HISTORY OF ELDERFIT

A brain child of Dr. George McKiel, Elderfit-Lunenburg was initiated in 1998 with seed money from two partners: Veterans Affairs Canada and the Lunenburg County Community Health Board. The program, utilizing a private pool built for SCUBA training, was maintained by corporate funding through effective fund raising. Classes were led three times a week by professional physiotherapists skilled in aqua-exercise.

A further improvement was made in the decision to become a registered Society under the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies. Elderfit also applied for and received official recognition as a Charitable Organization with Canada Revenue Agency.

A high media profile was, and is, maintained by collaboration with the local media and this, combined with enthusiastic word-of-mouth, has generated a "fun" program that has become widely known and respected in the community and beyond. The success of the Elderfit program was deemed important and it was felt that it should be shared with other communities. So, in 1999, a professional 30-minute video was commissioned in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the Federal Department of Human Resources. The video was then premiered in Ottawa at the annual scientific meeting of the Canadian Association of Gerontology.

By the spring of 2000, two classes a day, three times a week were necessary to accommodate the increasing registration. To maintain a nominal monthly registration fee, volunteer facilitators took over the instruction. These dedicated and skilled instructors all began as Elderfit participants, and have been trained by a qualified professional, with special emphasis on seniors, and on problems presented by arthritis. The program also welcomes younger individuals with special needs who can benefit from the therapy offered by water exercise.

Elderfit undertook a sponsorship for the joint awards by Health Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada on Falls Prevention, and was awarded a two year contract mandated to raise the awareness in Lunenburg and Queens Counties on the risks of falling, for seniors. This in turn, led to Katimavik sending teams to Lunenburg over a two year period to augment volunteers for Falls Prevention.

Elderfit's credibility is such that new class participants, who are often referrals from Lunenburg County's physicians and physiotherapists, continue to swell our ranks. Current registration is more than 150 participants, who participate in 12 classes held weekly year round at the Best Western Plus Bridgewater, at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island (Western Shore), at emOcean Wellness Centre in Lunenburg and at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater.


MISSION STATEMENT:

"Elderfit Lunenburg is a Charitable Organization as defined by Canada Revenue Agency. A member of Recreation Nova Scotia, our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of seniors, and/or physically compromised persons. We carry out this mission through structured Aquacize classes conducted by trained and skilled volunteer leaders, with the special needs of some participants in mind; be that age, infirmity, joint replacement, or other limitations."