Olympics pure gold for elders as annual event looks a winner

THE overwhelming success of the pilot program of the Central West Elders Olympics in Orange on Monday could be the catalyst for the event to be held on an annual basis in Orange.

Although the program, which has an emphasis on physical activity for elders in the indigenous community, has been operating in other areas since 2001, yesterday’s event at the PCYC was a first for Orange.

“Although there is a mix of people here and it isn’t just Aboriginal people, usually our people don’t see each other except for sad occasions such as Sorry Day and funerals,” Aboriginal elder Neil Ingram said.

“We are here today supporting each other.”

The day brought together Aboriginal clients of community care, Home and Community Care clients and aged and disability service clients to compete in sporting activities which were modified to encourage participation.

For those who were vision impaired balls with bells were used,  with other balls designed for people using mobility aids, or who needed to remain seated.

Co-ordinator of Orange’s event Sandra Kilby said yesterday’s event would not have been possible without the support of a number of agencies.

“I am so overwhelmed by the response - our pilot program is full,” she said.

Orange City Council’s community development officer Lynda Bowtell said the program for Orange had been a resounding success.

She said she’d like to see a challenge put in place for future years between participants of the Central West Elders Olympics and the Northern Elders Olympics, featuring elders from Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, Taree and Forster. 

“This would take the success to another level,” she said.

Many of the participants in yesterday’s physical activities had moderate to severe disabilities and needed additional support to actively participate.

Others travelled several hours to compete with some participants coming from as far away as Condobolin.

The Central West Elders Olympics pilot program was initiated by the Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, Orange Aboriginal Medical Centre, Orange City Council, Orange Community Training and Education Centre, Youth Connections, Ric and Vics Engraving and the Orange Men’s Shed.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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