Reprinted from The News Reporter and Whiteville.com.
Seniors throughout the county will enjoy friendly competition and healthy exercise next spring, thanks to a group of volunteers bringing the Columbus BOOMER games here.
The project, which is working to bring the official North Carolina Senior Games here starting in 2014, is organizing a similar set of competitions for next year.
running, jumping and discus throwing, but that’s just where the fun begins.
Anyone age 55 or older can participate in these or other events, including the old favorite “backyard games” of horseshoes, croquet, corn hole, tennis, table tennis, golf and bocce.
Organizers are also considering offering swimming and cycling events.
“This will fit right in with our programs,” said Columbus County Department of Aging Director Ed Worley. “I hope that our seniors in every community get involved in this – it’s a wonderful thing.”
Aging will partner with Columbus County Parks and Recreation to coordinate the athletic and games events, meaning they will be well organized and fun.
“I’m excited about having the opportunity to offer athletic events and other activities to our seniors,” said Parks and Rec director Julie Strickland. “I feel like everybody should have the opportunity for friendly competition and exercises – young and old – and seniors are a vital part of our community.”
But there is a whole lot more.
The goal of the N.C. Senior Games – and thus, the BOOMER Games – is to inspire seniors to be active one way or another, and organizers of the statewide games realized early on the benefits of including the arts.
So the Columbus County Arts Council and the art department of Southeastern Community College are teaming up with others to offer BOOMER Arts events.
Seniors will be able to present their creations in painting, needleworking, woodworking, weaving and sculpture, as well as writing essays, poetry and short stories. The more outgoing types can compete in comedy, dance or music.
“I’m extremely excited about the BOOMER Arts events,” Arts Council director Sally Mann said. “There are many artists here who haven’t shown their work in years, and I am really looking forward to seeing it.”
Entry fees will help support the project, and should be less than $10 per person for as many events as they would like to participate in.
“We certainly want to keep our seniors active and moving about, exercising and having fun,” said Columbus County Manager Bill Clark. “I think it’s a great idea, and I think the seniors will really enjoy it.” Clark said he believes that affiliating with the N.C. Senior Games will benefit the county.
“I’m familiar with the organization,” he said. “It would be more than welcome here, and I think it will be a good thing for Columbus County. It would be another program that we can add to our long list of things we do for and with our seniors.”
Organizing the events will be a great challenge in itself, and the committee, led by Melody Prevatte of the RSVP program and Mark Gilchrist of The News Reporter, needs volunteers.
One person will be in charge of directing each event, and people with those interests should contact either Prevatte or Gilchrist. Extensive work must be done to organize and promote the overall event, and interested people are welcome to attend a meeting this Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Greater Whiteville Chamber of Commerce.
The N.C. Senior Games started nearly 30 years ago and has participation in most of the state’s 100 counties. Through the decades, more than 60,000 seniors have been inspired to run, jump, create, dance and be active for the games.
In counties that are sanctioned with the state games (not Columbus) participants who win medals qualify to compete in the state games in September. Counties send contingents to the Raleigh area for that event, which includes a big opening ceremony featuring a banner procession of the counties or groups.
Possibly the most entertaining competition of all is the cheerleading. Participants will form cheerleading squads, get uniforms and basically act like teenagers. Routines are often simple line dances with pom poms and cheers, but they are exciting and fun.
This is an ambitious project and organizers are hoping that people of all ages will want to be involved in some way. With Columbus County ranked so low in health indicators, programs like this are sorely needed.
More information on the Columbus BOOMER Games can be found at Takethelake.org.
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