What is the Healthy Lifestyles Program?
Grandparents and grandchildren, participating in the Pinebelt Association for Families support groups, can now participate in structured exercise classes, nutrition education and healthy cooking activities.
Support for healthy lifestyle changes has come from the Jarden Foundation, the Coca Cola Foundation, Foundation for the MidSouth, United Way and the Southern Mississippi Area Agency on Aging.
Providing opportunities for healthy lifestyles changes for grandparent caregivers in their 60′s’, 70′s and 80′s as well as their grandchildren present some unique challenges.
To address theses challenges, programs have involved grandparents only, grandchildren only followed by intergenerational activities involving the family.
Grandparent Healthy Lifestyles
Throughout the year, grandparents in both Forrest and Jones Counties participate in one hour twice weekly water aerobics classes. Grandparents are initially tested using the Senior Fitness Test which measures upper and lower body strengths, flexibility, and balance. Results are recorded and each grandparent is retested at three month intervals to monitor progress. In addition to improvements in all areas, grandparents enjoy the fellowship and feel a whole lot better.
Grandparents also participate in nutrition education through the Mississippi State Extension’s program Nutrition Sen$e which offers information on shopping with a budget, how to read a label and food safety. Managing their health and learning about chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, arthritis, gout (to name a few) are also a part of healthy lifestyles. Sessions guided by trainers from the Southern Mississippi Area Agency on Aging cover topics in a group friendly format and allowed plenty of time for sharing and learning relaxation techniques.
Grandkids Healthy Lifestyles
It is important for grandkids to pursue healthy lifestyles and develop healthy living habits. Grandkids in the program engaged in group exercises involving aerobics, endurance trainings, stretching and cooperative games. Led by a fitness instructor and with the full participation of the Executive Director of PAFF, grandkids jumped, ran, climbed, and completed exercise circuits for a period of twelve weeks. Each exercise session concluded with a nutrition lesson and a healthy snack. Spinach and ham rollups, tomato treats,whole wheat crackers, cheese and water were just some of the healthy snacks.
Grandkids also, for the first time in their lives, participated in a 5K Diversity Dash sponsored by the Social Work Department at Univ of Southern Miss and held on the campus. Twenty-one grandkids participated, all finished and one grandson even came in 6th out 525! Their participation could never have been possible without the confidence they gained during their exercise regimens.
Recent (Fall, 2013) enrollment with family memberships at the Hattiesburg and Petal Y’s have allowed grandfamilies to exercise together.