Waterford offers health and wellness program

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WATERFORD — Waterford Sports & Recreation Director Jasmine Merrill has initiated a health and wellness program to expand the offerings for residents of all ages.

“I want a way for people to be educated and get healthy,” said Merrill, who was hired by the Board of Selectmen as Waterford’s part-time director last spring after she and others expressed concern about the decline in recreational program participation.

The program, which already includes Yoga with Rose and Tai Chi classes with Julianne Forbes, plus speakers from from the American Red Cross, Central Maine Community College, the University of Maine Center on Aging, Stephens Memorial Hospital, Seniors Plus, New Ventures Maine and Paula Easton from the New England Donor Services, are held at the Waterford Town Office, 366 Valley Rd.

Merrill said the program is open to any resident with classes offered weekly from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on either Monday or Wednesdays. A schedule of programs is available on the department’s webpage at http://www.waterfordme.org/sportsandrec.php

Merrill said the majority of the classes are free. There is a small fee for the exercise classes.

Additionally, Merrill said the department continues to offer its monthly luncheons and weekly field trip for seniors from Waterford and beyond.

“We have older population and we need to get people out and about,” she said of the desire to find ways to get seniors to socialize but without having to travel too far.

So far the response has been very good, she said of the senior activities.

For example, the first senior luncheon, which is offered each third Tuesday of the month at the Wilkins House, 15 Plummer Hill Rd., had a turnout of 25 people. In November there were 45 people,.

Likewise, the first field trip for seniors brought out 12 seniors. A recent field trip to Portland had 45 seniors on board.

Merrill, who has a work background in banking, grew up in Norway and spent the last 15 years in Waterford, seven of them working with the town’s recreation activities. Her goal is to expand the available programs.

“We created the position (director) because there was a need to continue sports and recreation programs in Waterford and to fill a need for seniors” she said.

With a decline in population using the department’s sports and recreation programs, and a decline in the volunteer committee that oversees the Recreation Department programs, Merrill said she and Pat Lawler stressed the need to selectmen for a paid position. It has made a difference, she said.

“We want to secure the future of town sports,” she said.

Merrill also issues a weekly newsletter “Waterford Community” which is available on the Facebook link found at https://www.facebook.com/waterfordmesportsandrec/

Anyone with questions can contact Merrill at 583-5261 or recreation@waterfordme.org.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net