Seniors exercise body and mind at the Senior 55+ Friendship Games

Click on the slideshow above to view captions.Photos: Dali Carmichael, Don Jaque and Janie Hobart.

Fort Smith’s recreation facilities were running full-tilt this weekend as the community hosted the biannual Senior 55+ Friendship Games.

Organized by the Fort Smith Senior Citizens’ Society, more than 30 participants came out for the tournament this year, some from as far away as California and Australia.

“The purpose is to encourage seniors to be active and that’s active physically and mentally,” said organizer Janie Hobart. “That’s why cribbage is one of our sports.”

Other competitive events included golf, horseshoes, swimming and general athletics.

In addition to the more formal rounds, the seniors were also treated to a tizzy of fun activities. Jam-packed evenings consisted of everything from delicious meals to karaoke sing-offs and lessons in Bunnock, known as the “game of bones.”

Giving the group an outlet to socialize was just as important as the games, Hobart noted.

“If people have disabilities it’s often not easy to get out and about and this is one way they can,” she said. “The socialization aspect is important for any age group.”

Overseeing the games was the NWT minister responsible for seniors and persons with disabilities, Glen Abernethy.

“What I’ve really enjoyed about this weekend is it’s great that everyone is out being physical and getting blood flowing and moving and being active as much as possible,” he said to the crowd at the closing ceremonies on Sunday. “What I really appreciate more is (that) everywhere I go, everyone is having such a wonderful time.”

Abernethy was not the only one with this sentiment.

“I thought it was an awesome weekend, I enjoyed every moment I was here,” said Amy Mercredi, who shuttled in from Enterprise. “I did the games, I visited the town and I visited some friends, I went out to the graveyard, it was wonderful.”

Leon Peterson, president of the NWT Seniors’ Society, profusely thanked the many volunteers and regional businesses for their contributions, without which the weekend could not have come together.

Towards the end of the fun-filled games, participants were twittering with one another, making plans for their next get-together. Rumour has it the Senior’s Society in Enterprise will be hosting a day of making cabbage rolls while swapping stories in the near future.

“We don’t often take time to slow down and remember fun things from the past and to reconnect with our friends,” Hobart said.

Once again, the 55+ Friendship Games allowed the friends – old and new – to do just that.

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