Since 2003, Age Concern NZ has set up over 230 Steady As You Go© groups, and over 4,400 people take part weekly in the classes across Aotearoa. However, during the COVID-19 restrictions, the classes had to be paused due to lockdowns, limits on events and the risks associated with social gatherings.
Now, thanks to an unexpected $10,000 donation from AA Insurance, Age Concern NZ will produce a video of one of its fitness classes, to be used to run ‘virtual’ Steady As You Go© sessions in case of more lockdowns. It can also be used by people based rurally, those who are away from their usual home, or by those wanting to exercise between face-to-face classes.
The video will also be provided to volunteer peer leaders to learn the routines, so they can deliver them in smaller communities where Age Concern NZ has not yet started classes.
COVID-19 has made Age Concern NZ, which supports and upholds the rights of older New Zealanders, extremely busy with coordinating support and volunteers. But it has also put the charity in the spotlight, leading to more volunteer offers and donations from the country’s businesses, such as AA Insurance – whose staff are keen to help support the older generation during this pandemic.
“It’s been a particularly rough year for both young and old, and it’s very important for us at AA Insurance to support and care for our communities,” says Nikki Howell, GM of People & Capability at AA Insurance.
Stephanie Clare, chief executive of Age Concern NZ, welcomed the donation. “This generosity from the staff of AA Insurance filled our hearts. We know older people did it tough during lockdown, and not being able to join in regular exercise classes was a stress we heard about often. This amazing donation will make it easy for them to keep exercising when getting to a group is not possible.”
The fitness classes for older Kiwis have been evaluated by University of Otago researchers, who found they improve physical function, reduce the risk of falls, are fun, improve participants’ sense of wellbeing and confidence, and provide links with other people in the neighbourhood.
Keep an eye out for the Steady As You Go© video in coming months.