In an endeavor to bring Bloomsburg University students together with the local elderly community, BU hosted its first Senior Olympics, the Silver Husky Games, on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Organized by a dedicated group of students guided by professors, the event looked to inspire older Huskies to socialize and get active, as well as promote healthy living across the lifespan.
The games featured events such as a basketball shootout, a tennis ball toss, Jenga, table tennis, and a relay race.
The participants, all 60 years and older, competed in five separate teams with one student alternate per team, racking up a number of points to decide the winning team.
The games lasted from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.at the Student Rec Center; participants competed for 20 minutes at each game station.
BU Psychology professor Dr. Marion Mason was one of this event’s biggest supporters. As the program coordinator for the Aging Studies and Gerontology (ASG) minor, Mason stressed the importance of promoting successful aging to the older population.
“Successful aging really contains multiple factors,” Mason explained, “one of the most important is exercise.” Staying active, as Mason explains, is crucial to having a healthy body and mind for as long as possible. “Move like your life depends on it,” she said, “because it does!”
Two other major factors to successful aging are socialization and cognitive stimulation, and both of them were incorporated into this event.
“Since these were our first Silver Husky Games, we really wanted to focus on lighter, fun games for our participants to get that ‘social’ aspect,” Mason said.
The games may become more competitive as they evolve, she explained, but the inaugural event aimed to be fun and social.
While this event had multiple professors overseeing its planning, the process was largely driven by students. Lauren Bunnell, a BU student and president of BU’s Aging Special Interest Group (ASIG), was heavily involved in planning the games.
The inception for this event occurred in the 2018 spring semester, Bunnell explained, and donations were gathered over the summer.
“As soon as the fall semester started, we were meeting pretty much weekly to plan the games,” she said. “We really want to bridge the gap between students and the older generation.”
Lauren Perez, another student heavily involved in planning the games and an ASG minor, felt inspired to foster the connection between the two age groups. “It’s sad to see that a large number of older adults are forgotten,” she said.
Prizes for this event were donated by organizations such as the YMCA, the Bloomsburg University Store, Cole’s Hardware, Dunkin Donuts, the Dutch Wheelman Bicycle Shop, Kressler’s Service Station and The Inn at Turkey Hill.
The event also had support from ASIG; Giant Food Store; Weis Markets; McDonalds; the departments of Communication Studies, Nursing, and Psychology and the Office of Marketing and Communications.
Mason encourages all senior citizens to get involved with events similar to the Silver Husky Games, regardless of any hesitations. “Some people may be afraid of being alone or not being able to find parking,” she says, “but our events are well attended and organized, so there will always be people to support you.”
In addition to the Silver Husky Games, the Department of Communication Studies is encouraging local senior citizens to take classes on BU’s campus in the upcoming semester. Available winter classes include Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, and Intercultural Communication.
Classes available in the spring include Small Group Communication, Communication for Business Professionals, Conflict Management and Resolution and Health Communication.
The department is hoping that taking these classes will further help senior citizens to continue to socialize far into their lifespan while also continuing to engage their minds.
Mason believes it’s encouraging to see positive interaction happening between students and older individuals on campus and hopes more people will get involved in the future.
As she explained, “successful aging, really, is a way of taking charge of your life.”Students interested in getting involved with the Aging Special Interest Group can contact Lauren Bunnell at [email protected]