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Olympic fever

Resident Thomas Boucher in the "bobsled" that was designed for the Castle Country Care Center "Olympics."

Sun Advocate reporter

The thought of world class skiers swooshing down giant slaloms, bobsledders streaking through runs at 90 MPH or hockey players crashing one another into the boards are as far away from senior assisted care living in Price as the planet Pluto, but for residents of Castle Country Nursing Center the concepts are related - at least through Friday.

Born out of an idea to incorporate more fun activities for the residents, as well as capitalize on the current Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the event began on Monday with opening ceremonies and a hockey match and will end on Friday with a snowball shot put and closing ceremonies. In between, participants are engaging in bobsled races, snowball tosses, strong man pulls, relay races and even a hot chocolate chugging contest.

"Of course, we're not going to put someone in a sled and push them down a hill," said Castle Country resident advocate Kerrie Barker. "This idea came from our desire to make things fun and interesting for the residents. I was surprised by the number who signed up to take part in these games. The residents have really loved it and wish we could do it all the time. They're getting outside, having fun and really getting involved."

The events are adapted for the age and ability of the participants, and not to be taken literally. Therefore, a Castle Country hockey game does not involve hip checks or high sticking, but a spunky contest with plastic sticks and a large rubber ball in the dining room. And a trip on the bobsled does not mean residents zooming around a frozen track, just pushing themselves just pushing themselves in a wheelchair decorated to look like the bow of the Titanic.

"This is a great idea," said physical therapist Chuck Walthall. "The residents are having a great time and enjoying this activity just like the others we have put together for them. It's great to see them having such fun."

Occupational therapist Scott Crider agreed.

"We've been wanting to do more of these kinds of activities for our residents," he said, "and since the Olympics are going on right now, this was a perfect time for something like this. So far, things have gone great."

Crider presided as host during the opening ceremonies, an affair which featured a cavalcade of wheelchairs through a flag-draped hallway and into a balloon-filled lunchroom where dozens of residents, family members and employees had gathered. After a spirited Star-Spangled Banner and a solemn Pledge of Allegiance (with the flag held by Zana, Walthall's daughter), a lunch was held and then the games began.

On Friday a special medal presentation ceremony will be held at noon.

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