A UNIQUE programme which aims to get elderly Buddies fit and healthy has kicked off at St Mirren Park.
Run in conjunction with the Renfrewshire Community Health Initiative (RCHI), Saints will be helping a group of 15 OAPs regain and maintain an active lifestyle.
St Mirren general manager Brian Caldwell said the Paisley club is delighted to team up with RCHI to deliver the six-week programme.
He explained: “We took part in a recent pilot scheme and it seemed to go really well, so we were keen to get involved again.
“We had been talking to the people at RCHI about this for around a year, so it’s great to see something finally come to fruition.
“It’s all about delivering a service to the elderly and, if we can use our facilities at St Mirren Park to help achieve that, we’re happy to do so.
“We are always looking to use this football club as a vehicle to educate and we will also be giving out tickets to those taking part in the programme.
“We hope it encourages people to come back to football and use it as a way of socialising with others.”
The course is being run over a total of six Mondays and volunteers started off by being given a guided tour of St Mirren Park. A coffee break was then followed by a 45-minute presentation on health and wellbeing.
Mr Caldwell added: “Our community coaches are involved in the initiative and delivered a talk to those taking part.
“We’re also in the process of getting a brand new IT learning suite at St Mirren Park and, as soon as it’s up and running, we will get the volunteers hooked up to the internet.
“Opening up the world of computing to some people who may not have experienced it before will give them an added interest.”
Sandra Stewart, of RCHI, explained how the programme will be broken down into six weekly modules.
She said: “These modules will look at eating and drinking sensibly, looking after your mental health and keeping safe, talking about your feelings, keeping active, doing things you enjoy and asking for help.
“We have based the programme around evidence that shows exactly what keeps people well in later life.
“When we undertook the pilot programme, we learned a great deal and have incorporated a lot of that into the current course.
“Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of elderly people in Renfrewshire and we believe this will go some way to achieving that goal.”
Sandra has even taken up sessions of “laughter yoga” – a combination of laughter exercises and Yogic breathing which increases the amount of oxygen in your body.
This results in participants feeling healthier, energised and alive and Sandra added: “Fun drills such as laughter yoga and gentle exercise will prove extremely beneficial for our elderly volunteers.
“We’re excited about this programme and I’d like to praise St Mirren. They were keen to try it out, even though neither party knew if it would be a success or not.
“They are a bona fide community club and have done everything they could to help us. Their community coaches have also been great and have been quick to interact with those taking part in the programme.”