Coordinator Laura Van Dyk is leading the Neighbours Engaging in Activities Together (NEAT) program coming to Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Coordinator Laura Van Dyk is leading the Neighbours Engaging in Activities Together (NEAT) program coming to Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

NEAT program needs older adults in Oak Bay

12-week program builds neighbourhood connections

A popular program designed to create social connections and promote physical activity is coming to Oak Bay.

Laura Van Dyk works for Saanich and is bringing Island Health’s 12-week Neighbours Engaging in Activities Together (NEAT) program to Oak Bay starting Sept. 20.

The free, social program offers older adults a chance to try new activities and meet new friends, Van Dyk said.

Classes are led by recreation therapists who help participants with self-management challenges and motivation.

“Participants actually decide which activities they would like to do,” Van Dyk said.

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Older adults are at higher risk of becoming isolated and there is a lot of new research that shows the benefits of social connection and physical activity and the importance of staying engaged, Van Dyk added.

“However, people who have never been engaged in community recreation may find the thought daunting and completely unappealing.”

Thus Island Health launched the NEAT program to connect with older adults who want to be involved but don’t know where to start. Others are slowly growing more isolated because of barriers such as fixed income.

The activities range from board games and water colour painting to memoir writing or chair yoga.

“As we age some life experiences get in the way and create challenges to staying socially connected,” Van Dyk said. “If mobility becomes challenging, financial resources become limited or you lose a loved one, it can leave you feeling lethargic, depressed and not motivated to leave the house.”

The program starts Sept. 20 in Oak Bay. It also runs in Saanich, Victoria and Sidney, all through partnerships between municipal parks and recreation staff and Island Health.

For more information contact laura.vandyk@saanich.ca.  

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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