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Wii are Having Fun at Waveny

Posted on July 17, 2008

Photo Caption:  Junior Volunteers and seniors alike enjoy the Nintendo® Wii gaming system at Waveny Care Network.

New Canaan – One of the hottest video game systems on the market is the Nintendo® Wii, and the participants of the Adult Day Program at Waveny Care Center couldn’t agree more. Committed to embracing cutting-edge technology, Waveny recently integrated the innovative Nintendo® Wii gaming system into therapeutic recreation programming throughout its continuum of care.

Recently released by Nintendo®, the Wii video game console is designed to make interactive gaming accessible to people of all ages, skill levels and abilities by fusing the familiarity of a remote control with the sophistication of unique motion-sensing technology. A distinguishing feature of the system is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect acceleration and orientation in three dimensions.

Under the guidance of Waveny’s Department of Volunteers and Department of Therapeutic Recreation, a recreational program was developed using the Wii to promote intergenerational connectivity by offering Junior Volunteers an additional opportunity to interact, share and engage with seniors through use of this new technology. The Junior Volunteers undertook the assignment of developing and implementing this new activity and have assumed responsibility for educating and instructing Waveny’s seniors on the use of the gaming system.   

Since the program focuses on promoting intergenerational interaction, positive experiences are gained by both groups. Specifically, Waveny’s Junior Volunteers – a group that consists of more than 75 local youths ranging in age from 13 to 18 – benefit from the continual development of interpersonal, communication and leadership skills, self esteem, respect for others, team work, camaraderie, and the importance of purpose and community. In addition to providing important entertainment and social value, therapeutic benefits derived from the seniors’ use of the Wii include improved fine and gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination, increased physical and social activity, cognitive stimulation, and an overall sense of confidence and feeling of having fun.

 “Thanks to the intergenerational nature of this activity, our interactive Wii program is fast becoming a favorite pastime for all involved,” said Dalila Gamarra, Director of Therapeutic Recreation. “Not only does the program benefit everyone, it has given us a unique opportunity to complement our more traditional recreational activities with cutting-edge technology, which has effectively given our programming a new look and new approach. Also, while serving in a teacher role, we’ve found the kids to be more relaxed and comfortable in assisting our seniors because they are engaging with them in a physical, fun, and casually competitive environment.”

“I always assumed that video games were something only kids enjoyed,” said Joan Van Alst, a participant in Waveny’s Adult Day Program. “But I’m having so much fun using it with the help of these wonderful young people – I especially enjoy the sports games, particularly bowling and tennis, because it feels so realistic.”

A grant to fund the equipment used in this program has been submitted to The Young Women’s League of New Canaan whose charitable theme this year is “Children: Health, Opportunity, Purpose, and Education.” Waveny’s grant request is currently under consideration.

Waveny Care Network provides a comprehensive continuum of healthcare to serve the growing needs of older adults from all areas. Waveny is a not-for-profit organization that offers independent living at New Canaan Inn, assisted living for people with Alzheimer’s and memory loss at The Village, and skilled nursing at Waveny Care Center. It also includes the Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, a Geriatric Care Management team that provides 24-hour coverage, a newly expanded Adult Day Program, inpatient and outpatient Rehabilitation Services, and respite programs and hospice care at The Village and Care Center. For information call (203) 594-5200 or visit www.waveny.org.