By Leigh Ann Renzulli
Bobby Dinkins admits his idea to build a playground for seniors wasn’t exactly original. “I actually just got the idea [through] Google,” says Dinkins, director of the Boyd Esler Senior and Community Center in Springfield Township, Ohio. “I went online and googled ‘exercise equipment for seniors’ and read about the Hyde Park playground in England. I realized they were really popular in Europe and Asia, but not over here.”
Dinkins is right: Playgrounds designed specifically for aging residents have popped up in England, Finland, Germany and throughout Asia. But the idea is just now taking off in the U.S. The parks feature low-impact exercise equipment designed to promote balance and flexibility, such as elliptical machines, static bikes and body flexors.
After securing $33,500 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the facility, Dinkins opened it last November. “The idea behind the equipment is to get seniors to stay active and to prevent them from falling,” Dinkins says. “Improving balance is important because a fall can be physically and emotionally devastating for seniors. Plus, it’s just fun.”
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