Diario del Huila, Community
By: Hernán Guillermo Galindo
The objective of residents of the Santa Inés neighborhood and the Faculty of Physical Education of the Surcolombiana University is the social and community inclusion of the elderly in Neiva.
Older adults who are part of the project ‘Let’s Walk Through Life’ meet from Monday to Saturday at the sports field of the Universidad Surcolombiana to develop recreation, health and well-being activities.
The social initiative was born 21 years ago by the interest of residents of Santa Inés, a neighborhood near the institution in the north of Neiva, who decided to integrate through sports and other types of activities to share experiences and undertake healthy lifestyles.
“Several inhabitants felt the need to get together and we decided to start days as a way to stay active and healthy. We would get up early to walk or jog around the houses. But once we saw the entrance to the Usco open and then we entered, being welcomed by the faculty of physical education ”, says the president of this club of friends, María Eugenia Quintero.
More than 240 partners
For this reason, it is not surprising that many people in the commune have wanted to join the club for the elderly, which today has 240 members.
“Every day we arrive after 6:30 in the morning. We greet each other, we talk, we drink a tintico, we play or do sports to generate health, well-being and happiness, which are our motto, ”says Quintero.
As integration and recreation does not have a class character, nor is it the patrimony of anyone in particular, it allows the practice and participation of all members of society, without dwelling on differences in resources, possibilities and available time.
To belong is very simple. You must pass an admission application note and be presented by one of the partners. After being accepted, you must pay a tuition and a monthly fee of $ 35,000 pesos and continue to pay $ 10,000 pesos each month, to support the Caminemos por la Vida club.
The activities are diverse, such as walking, beach volleyball, dance, aerobics, folk groups, swimming pool, cheers, rumba therapy or board games. There are many options to occupy your free time with fun and harmony.
Jairo Sterling, one of the members who has been there for 16 years, says that his entry meant a before and after in life. And he explains that previously he remained dedicated to work, with the hectic of daily living and the stress that it generated, that they did not give him space or time for himself:
“Now, I have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful health and wellness plan. At 67 years old, I have turned my life upside down. Above all, in quality. I enjoy everything that the sports facilities of the University offer us. We have the scenarios, health conferences and the possibility of developing different activities ”.
And he adds, with emotion in his voice, that I wish the Neiva and Huila society knew more about this type of projects and spaces for the elderly to expand them to more people and new territories.
Havaneth Ramírez, one of the founding women, says that the program began with Professor Luz Marina López, a resident of Santa Inés. He was the one who was in charge of going house to house to encourage people, to invite them to do physical and even mental exercise.
“At first, what we did was move around walking on the so-called ‘return to the bridges’. And one day, when the confinement was barely wire, we saw the gate open and we went inside. Later, the University understood our wishes and needs and supported us, ”he says.
And he highlights that Professor Clímaco González “organized the project with all the law,” with a board of directors and working groups. This has been a wonderful thing for our lives, he says.
We started 15 and now 240 people are with me because the Lord Jesus has already taken some friends to eternity, says, with regret, the 71-year-old woman, as she looks at the sky and shares that it is her children who most encourage her to remain active.
Students have been critical to the success and significance of the program. Cristian Camilo, in his last semester of physical education, recounts his experience:
“Our job is to ensure the health of our older adults and keep them active in sports, such as athletics, volleyball. That they exercise in the bio-healthy parks. We support them in recreational activities such as dancing, singing, playing instruments. As a novelty, we are dabbling in cheerleading with the ‘girls’. They are very animated, we already have more than 20 registered ”.
He then emphasizes that he attends as an intern, but is so rigged and empowered with the project that he would like to do his professional internship at the club next semester, and thus be able to continue with the activities that he has collaborated to start up.
Health is life
A very important space within the actions carried out and received by the members of Caminemos por la Vida are related to health prevention.
The person in charge of coordinating this work is the nurse of the nursing school, Yivy Salazar. We are promoting health through our proposal ‘health to live’, he says, quickly.
“We promote health, care and vigor. We recover the bodies by evaluating and monitoring the elderly in their family and hospital environment, when they require it, with which we contribute to their protection, well-being and happiness ”.
Professor Clímaco González, who started this beautiful commitment to social and community life, already retired, was followed by graduates Fernando Perdomo Galindo and for 6 years Ángel Míller Roa.
It is so much the love and pride of its members for Caminemos por la Vida that they even have a hymn, that they sing with joy and enthusiasm at the beginning of each day. The author is Professor José Vicente Castillo, who has now disappeared.
Leonor Castillo, partner: “It is a great space for the elderly that fills us with life and health. It is a wonderful thing that has happened to us. We are very grateful for what is happening to us in the twilight ”.
Liliana Salas, housewife: “I have been 4 years old and I am very happy for the sport. I like that the people here are like a second family. Last year I had the death of my mother, it was very hard, but here I found support and accompaniment. I practice sports, I dance and what I like the most are cheers. The project for me has been spectacular ”.
Guillermina widow of Mejía: She says that she is going to retire and that she has been a partner for 20 years. “My daughter brought me in after the death of my husband, a departure that happened 19 years ago. A year later I joined the project. It has helped me because here I found myself in a second family ”.