Tasmania | Rural
NARI has worked in collaboration with Wyndham City Council, Whittlesea City Council and the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria to develop three Seniors Exercise Parks that provide space for older people to be physically and socially active. The parks are located within the Melbourne Metropolitan Area, including sites in Hoppers Crossing, Thomastown and St Helena.
Commencing in 2018, and now in its final stage of data collection (2020), the ENJOY Trial aims to address the need for more age-friendly active outdoor spaces that provide opportunities for older people to engage in safe physical activity.
The ENJOY Trial has been informed by research demonstrating the physical and social benefits to older people from using Seniors Exercise Parks [2-4]. This initial research sparked interest from the community and local governments to translate the work to public open spaces in Victoria.
Following discussion with local governments who indicated their interest in pursuing the project, partnerships were established between the NARI and Wyndham City Council, Whittlesea City Council, the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria and Gandel Philanthropy. Research funding was provided by Gandel Philanthropy to support the project. To implement the Trial, NARI worked with councils (Infrastructure/Open Place and Positive Ageing teams), as well as community centres and seniors’ groups.
The implementation process has been delivered in several stages, some of which are ongoing. This includes:
Establishing the infrastructure
The design and construction of the Seniors Exercise Parks was led by Lark Industries and their partners. The sites feature outdoor exercise equipment which incorporate multiple stations specifically designed for older people to improve strength, balance, joint movements, mobility and function. Park users are further supported with educational guides (located at the site) that can be referred to when using the Park.
As part of the research project, data is being collected on the mental, social and physical health outcomes of sustained physical activity, achieved via exercise programs delivered at the Seniors Exercise Parks. This will help to understand the benefits of these amenities, while supporting their sustainability.
Communication and training
The dissemination of project information via various stakeholder forums (Local Government’s national forums, Municipal Association of Victoria, Landscape Architects forums) has been important to educate and upskill community and councils, ensuring they are making informed decisions regarding the implementation of age-friendly community facilities in public open spaces.
Collaboration and partnerships have been critical to creating these sustainable age-friendly facilities. Specifically, the research and facilitation coordinated by the NARI, has played an important role in assisting local governments to obtain the resources, funding and expertise to establish the Seniors Exercise Parks, while providing ongoing evidence to support their value to the community.