Class keeps seniors moving

Published: 5/26/2023 2:25:20 PM

Modified: 5/26/2023 2:25:04 PM

After leaving her classes at the Greenfield Senior Center, Kathy Steinem is now helping seniors across the county get their steps in and live active lifestyles.

Steinem left her teaching gig earlier this year when she refused to provide documentation of completion of hands-on CPR training and proof of group fitness certification to the Greenfield Senior Center. After that, she spread her wings across the county teaching new classes to seniors at various community centers in the county.

Steinem explained the programs, “are all designed to keep people moving and hopefully living independent and pain-free.”

One such class she started is the Walk and Movement class funded by the Colrain Cultural Council at the Griswold Memorial Library in her home town of Colrain. Others include classes at South Deerfield Senior Center, Gill-Montague Senior Center and the Shelburne Falls Senior Center.

Most of the classes she teaches are done sitting in chairs, helping seniors with limited mobility, but the Colrain class gets people from across town walking the street together. Starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays people gather at the library and walk around town together. Then at 10 a.m. they convene on the library lawn for a movement class. The class is scheduled to run through June, but may go longer.

Earlier versions of Steinem’s program were offered in Colrain. She hosted two versions of the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was designed to be part of the library’s Wellness Wednesday where seniors can work out in the morning, and receive medical advice from a public health nurses from the Franklin Council of Governments in the afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m.

The walking part of the class was created in conjunction with the Council on Aging and Walk Massachusetts Challenge, a program in Massachusetts for individuals 18 years and older to log their walking steps or miles during the week. This program is in effect from May 1 to October 31 and walkers can receive prizes by logging their exercise.

The movement class involves stretching and dancing outside getting the seniors’ blood pumping in the morning sunshine.

Librarian Chelsea Jordan-Makely explained programs like these are incredibly important because the harmful effects of senior isolation can often be exacerbated in rural areas. Other new Council on Aging events include “Cornhole for Colrainians” which is set to begin in June.

Jordan-Makely also said she is excited about this library event because it gets people using the lawn. The Conway School of Design recently did a redesign project of the lawn to be used for community activities, which the library hopes to incorporate into its programming. “It gets people seeing the library as a community hub,” she said.

In hopes to stay relevant in the ever-changing world, the library has pivoted its purpose into acting as a community center instead of a “repository of books,” Jordan-Makely explained. They have begun adding programming that highlights the many talents of residents around town; this funnels the money from tax-funded activities directly back into the resident’s pockets.

One such program, Jordan-Makely notes, is Colrain Fix-It day where people gather outside the library to share skills and fix their broken objects. They plan to add other events for residents to share their skills to the popular and growing list of activities they offer.

“We are continuing to build out our program budget that invests in our local community,” Jordan-Makely said.

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or

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