LETTER: How a “Huffing And Puffing” program will benefit seniors

Roger Morris has a plan to "twin" a new seniors program in Ottawa with an existing one in London, Ontario.

ABOVE: Roger Morris wants to use a successful recreation program from London, Ontario as a model for a similar initiative in Ottawa.

Until moving to Stittsville, last summer, I was an active member of the Huff n’ Puff Seniors Fitness Association, of London, Ontario. This umbrella organisation provides both social and physical activities for seniors, while using the city’s facilities, during the low peak facility hours. Their programs run mainly Monday through Thursday and provide a vast array of activities for seniors.

My plan is to bring the London format of Huff’n’Puff to Ottawa in the name of Huffing And Puffing Ottawa (HAPO) Seniors Fitness Association.

This plan will provide an umbrella organization which will “twin” with one of the cities existing organizations and expand the programs they offer.

It has been proven in many study papers, that an active senior is a productive senior, and that seniors who are active can stave off the onset of dimenture for many years.

Seniors are the largest demographic of citizens and as such it behoves us, seniors, to be both productive and a beneficial asset to our communities.

HAPO along with its city partners could bring about a significant change for Seniors as well as bring in additional revenues to the city.

By allowing seniors the use of facilities that would otherwise be hardly used during the non-core hours it means a great amount of additional revenue is generated for use in other city programs.
This additional revenue source could be used to sponsor youth in programs they could not otherwise afford.

I’m not looking to take over or compete with the existing city programs but merely to enhance them and offer seniors an organization tailored to meet their requirements at a cost which encourages them to “give it a try”.

At the core of this model is the seniors themselves. They offer up the ideas for the new programs, and if approved, they run them.

The London Huff n’ Puff Seniors Association has merely 1.5 paid people, all the rest are volunteers, including the accountant. The programs are vast, from tiddlywinks to softball, from crochet to tennis, from social get togethers to pickleball. Bus trips to a show, bus trips to Niagara. Monthly dances and courses in computer literacy.

London’s program has over 2,000 members and growing. It is adding a further facility this year and expects to see its membership reach the 3,000 mark this year. Their members pay a mere $40/year with an additional surcharge of $25 for those activities which involve the facilities for which rent is paid.

Ottawa deserves an upgraded seniors organsation and with the assistance of the existing associations we can pull this out of the hat and see the resulting keener, fitter 90 year old.

How I envisage this “twinning” is: HAPO would be the umbrella organization with each of the following supplying facilities etc. through the HAPO umbrella: Goulbourn Recreation Complex and other recreation centres; Kanata, Nepean, Churchill, Heron, & Other Senior Councils; Legions, Schools, Ice Rinks, Slow Pitch Parks, City Golf Courses, etc.

The keys are affordability, ease of access to programs, a friendly and inviting environment, no intimidation, give it a try and we’ll help you, getting seniors out in the community and giving them a great deal to look forward to.

The city would be the controllers, they would provide the facilities but they would not be locked into any guarantee for the continued provision of these facilities. Indeed they could remove the provision of the facilities at any time, either temporarily or on permanent basis. HAPO would only be using area of the facilities that would normally not be used at those times.

It’s a win-win for, the city, seniors, disadvantaged youth and the community at large.

Based on London’s 3,000 members against a population of 350,000, which generates more than $240,000 in revenue, Ottawa with its population of 5x this amount should eventually be able to generate 5 x $240,000= $1,200,000. This would more than adequately take care of the cost of the facilities and the programs.

Let’s get this initiative started and bring a new spark into the life of seniors.

For more information and on how a successful program works please visit London’s Huff’n’Puff Web Site at www.huffnpuffsfa.com

I would love to see seniors stepping out and embracing this venture.

Roger Morris
Stittsville


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