By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
NORTH BALTIMORE — Kelsie Bowling is on a mission to help senior citizens in North Baltimore get healthy.
To help accomplish that goal, Bowling has started a free senior walking club. The group will meet from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. every Friday at Briar Hill Health Campus, where Bowling is a community services representative.
“Fitness is important through the lifespan, and walking has so many benefits,” she said.
The first club session was held May 2, to coincide with Older Americans’ Month in May, and National Senior Health and Fitness Day May 28.
“I figured it would be a good kickoff in May,” Bowling said. “I think this is something that just needs to start to be incorporated and could really help in the future with anything health and wellness wise.”
Although no one showed up to take a walk at the initial outing, Bowling is optimistic that people will come once word gets out about the program.
“It will probably take at least a month to kick off, to get a good crowd,” she said.
Bowling noted that it’s not just for Briar Hill residents, but for all senior citizens who live in the North Baltimore area, and anyone else in the community who wants to take a walk and share some time with seniors.
“One of my main duties is community involvement, which I am really striving for in a small town like this,” she said, noting that she’s active in Rotary, the Lions Club and the North Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce.
“They all have activities that have been around forever. I’m just trying to get Briar Hill to be a big contribution to that as well because I think they’re such a vital resource in such a small town,” she said.
Bowling said the idea to form a walking club came about during a meeting of the Senior Executive Club. Members wanted a way to get some exercise while socializing with others.
When Bowling later mentioned the walking club to other chamber members, the response was positive.
“Obviously I put it out to seniors in the community, but I really want it to be open to anybody,” said Bowling. “I mean that’s any age group. It’s just anybody really who’s willing and wanting to better themselves and especially meet with any of the residents or just to come out and mingle with other seniors.”
Participants will meet each Friday at the assisted living door at Briar Hill, 600 Sterling Drive, North Baltimore. The front circle drive will be used initially for walking, Bowling said.
“It’s just an hour, and people can do whatever they want to do,” she said. “If they want to walk 10 minutes or they want to walk the whole hour, it’s up to them and the pace they want to go.”
The Briar Hill bus is also available to pick up walkers at the North Baltimore Senior Center and transport them to the health campus and then return them at the end of the walk.
“Depending on how big our group gets, we do have our bus which we can take to different sites,” said Bowling. “I know North Baltimore has a walking trail (the Slippery Elm Trail) that was an idea.”
The North Baltimore Park might be another site for walking.
“I even thought, depending on where this went, to incorporate other community events like trash pickup or different things like that, just to make sure the seniors, if they want to be involved in the community, have every opportunity to do so,” she said.
In the event of bad weather, the time can be spent socializing instead, Bowling said.
“If it rains and people from town come out, I think it would be a great time for them to mingle with residents because a lot of these people, they’ve been in this town for forever and a day, so it’s a great time for them to kind of catch up with people,” she said.
Bowling added that she’s open to other suggestions for the club which will continue meeting until the weather turns cold.
The health campus will also host the Ronald McDonald House and Briar Hill Car Show from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 30. It will include music by a disc jockey, a visit by Ronald McDonald, food, door prizes and a car display by the Tuesday Night Crawlers Classic Car Club. The event is open to the community, and donations will be accepted to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
A canned food drive will also be held this summer to benefit North Baltimore area food pantries.
Bowling said these events will give the health campus and the community a chance to help others.
“I know this is a small community. I just don’t want people to underestimate what everybody is capable of doing around here when they work together,” she said.
For more information, contact Briar Hill at 419-257-2421.
Wolf: 419-427-8419 Send an E-mail to Jeannie Wolf
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