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Seniors encouraged to get moving and social at Uniting Healthy Living programs

31 January 2019

The warm smile of an older Sri Lankan woman lights up the room as she brings her hands to the midpoint of her body.

Sarojini Nallanthuwan, a widow in her 70s who moved to Australia 8 years ago, is leading the Uniting Healthy Living for Seniors (HLFS) group made up of other people from a diversity of cultural backgrounds through a yoga routine.

Sarojini attends two weekly HLFS Groups run by Uniting at the Auburn Centre for Community which offer opportunities for gentle exercise through activities such as yoga and dance groups, as well as social interaction.

Rather than sitting home alone, Sarojini’s week has several scheduled activities to catch up with existing friends and make new ones.

“The Uniting bus picks me up from home on Monday and Tuesday to take me to the centre. We do all kinds of things like yoga, singing, dancing and playing cards.”

On Mondays she joins the Multicultural group at the Auburn Centre for Community, whilst on Tuesdays she attends the Sri Lankan Tamil group at the same location. This group is run in partnership with the Tamil Welfare Association and provides a great opportunity to mix with people from her cultural background and share stories. They also do a variety of exercises including traditional Tamil dancing.

“I have been doing Tamil dancing for about 4-5 years. There are 15 people in my group, including new members and people who have been there for a while. It’s great that so many friends are coming and joining. I’d need some new friends if there wasn’t the seniors centre,” she laughs.

Her group will be one of several cultural dance groups performing as part of the Cumberland Council Seniors Week Festival at the Central Gardens Nature Reserve Amphitheatre in Merrylands next Wednesday 13 February.

The free dance exhibition will run from 11am to 1pm and also includes Korean and Turkish dancing by groups which run under the Uniting HLFS program.

“Exercise and reducing social isolation are both key to maintaining independence for our growing elderly population,” says Uniting Community Development Specialist Michelle Burke.

“Our multicultural groups provide additional benefits to older people from different cultural backgrounds who may be more prone to isolation due to language barriers.”

New HLFS groups will begin in March and involve a 12 week program based around different themes in response to participants interests, such as local history, nature, and singing for fun. People from all cultural backgrounds are welcome.

The Uniting HLFS groups connect communities and encourage enjoyment of activities older people grew up with. A motivating factor to join for many of the members is the opportunity to exercise to maintain their health and wellbeing.  They stay for the company, the activities and the information provided by visiting speakers.

For information about the Uniting Healthy Living for Seniors programs contact Uniting on 1800 486484 or email: swwanbd@uniting.org.


Note to Editor:

  • A photo of Saronjini and the Tuesday HFLS group will be available by arrangement from next Tuesday 5 February.

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