Building better bones at the Pilgrim Senior Center

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It is a Friday morning at the Pilgrim Senior Center, and the participants of a new age exercise group are in full swing. Substituting for Camilla Morse, the group is led by the enthusiastic Marita Spencer Mentiviar, who guides the group in sets of full motion exercises. The exercises include leg lifts, hand, feet and arm stretches, swimming motions and balancing exercises. Light weights are provided for use as well if someone does not have their own. Many of the participants are in high spirits, talking and laughing while feeling refreshed at the same time.

But this is also serious business about building bones and being healthy.

Ginny Harvey, 72, of Warwick, said she “finds it [the group] very helpful,” and also mentions that the Senior Center is a “wonderful, great place.” She comes to this exercise group every week.

BoneBuilders of RI runs the program aimed at improving strength, balance, and energy levels, as well as increasing bone density. With strong research from Dr. Miriam Nelson and Tufts University, BoneBuilders of RI was created and is supported by The Village at Waterman Lake, an assisted living facility in Greenville, RI.

The program has had a seemingly positive affect on many of its participants. The co-owner of The Village, Diane Caruso, has been an advocate for BoneBuilders for over a decade. She has been a volunteer, class leader, organizer, and now Master Trainer. With her support and leadership, this special exercise program has progressed further and gained more participants and certified group leaders.

First starting at The Village at Waterman Lake, BoneBuilders of RI has expanded to offer programs throughout Rhode Island. According to their website, BoneBuilders has proved very beneficial to those who participate. The participants have experienced better posture, mobility, weight loss, muscle strength, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, less risk of stroke and better heart health. In addition, participants have had improvements in mood, such as lower stress and depression, sleep, brain functioning, and overall well-being. They have led much longer and healthier lives, as the exercising has done wonders for them.

On Friday group members had nothing but positive things to say about the experience.

Kathy Cordeiro, 64, of Warwick, found it very beneficial, saying, “It’s a wonderful place for many of the elderly to come, especially since many of them live alone.” She loves how it gives a chance for people to be involved and interact with one another. “It’s great for the community” she adds.

Barbara Aramini, a resident of Cranston says it is “terrific. It is very diverse and you meet many kinds of interesting people.”

Another group member, a 68-year-old Cranston resident, also had wonderful things to say. Fond of the center and group, she describes the class as “terrific” and “great.”

“I have been coming for two years,” she adds.

BoneBuilders of RI exercise sessions are offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:45-11:45 a.m. with a suggested $2 donation. There is also a special encore class on Wednesday afternoon from 4:30-5:30 p.m., as a convenience for those who may not be able to attend the morning session.

Kathleen (Bennett) Bohl, program director and coordinator at the Pilgrim Senior Center, speaks of BoneBuilders of RI as well as many of the other programs and incentives the center has to offer.

Other offerings include a drawing class, Wheel of Fortune game, Bingo, meditation, theater and writing groups, including poetry, and even ballroom dance, as well as another interesting and helpful program, Cyber Seniors.

Another helpful aspect of the Senior Center is social services. Social Services offers an array support systems such support groups like Loss of Spouse and Bereavement. Help is also available with assistance in Senior Housing, SNAP benefits, medical insurance, a food pantry and federally funded lunch program.

Kathleen has been with the center for seven years. Starting off in the social services department, she eventually moved on to becoming the programs coordinator and director.

For more information regarding BoneBuilders of RI or any other programs offered, contact Kathleen (Bennett) Bohl at (401) 468-4074. To contact the Senior Center directly call (401) 468-4090. The Pilgrim Senior Center is located at 27 Pilgrim Parkway, Warwick.

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