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Seniors going for the gold

Posted on February 11, 2015 by Dale Woodard
Lethbridge Herald file photo by Ian Martens The late Yosh Senda and his wife Florence stand with torch in hand after lighting the cauldron to kick off the Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games at the close of the torch relay in February 2009 at Henderson Lake. Lethbridge is set to once again host the Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 19-22.

This 2015 Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games is for all generations. When the games fire up in Lethbridge Feb. 19-22 at venues across the city as well as at Castle Mountain and Allison Creek in the Crowsnest Pass, roughly 1,100 athletes aged 55-and-up will go for gold.
But as Lethbridge gets ready to host the Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games for the second time in six years after staging the event in 2009, they do so tipping the hat to all generations of families and stressing a healthy lifestyle in the process.
“This year what we decided for the 55-Plus Winter Games was that we were going to take a multi-generational approach to the Games,” said Lea Switzer, chair of the board of directors for the Games. “The 55-Plus Games has been traditionally for 55-plus individuals. But it’s very important, in our minds, that youth, whether they’re (kindergarten) through (Grade) 12 or whether they’re (in) university or college, understand that healthy living starts where they are and the effects of that are very positive and you can see them in the 55-Plus Winter Games, that’s very important.”
That multi-generation theme will continue at the 2015 Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games All-Ages Torch Relay — sponsored by ATCO Gas — Feb. 18 at the University of Lethbridge 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness track.
“We’re really hoping the community will come out and support not only the athletes, but also the all the volunteers and the people that are involved in the games,” said Switzer. “We’re fortunate our multi-generational approach has actually brought in multi-generation individuals. And for our torch relay we have multi-generational families that are going to be doing the relay.”
With the Games a little over a week away, all the details are falling into place.
“The way we have the games set up is the board of directors are responsible for porfolios and they then engage their own chairs to take responsibility and then the chairs engage their own volunteers for their area. The chairs have been coming in to get their chairs, jackets and shirts,” said Switzer, adding the committee held a volunteers rally Feb. 5 at City Hall. “You can feel it in the air, they’re really excited and really looking forward to it. Everything is working so well, people are working very hard. There’s a really strong community committment and it’s really working well.”
The Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games features 14 events, including the downhill slalom at Castle Mountain and the cross country event in Allison Creek.
“Ten of them are physical and four of them are cereberal, things likes duplicate bridge, whist and darts,” said Switzer. “We also have very physical activities as well such as alpine skiing and cross-country skiing and men’s hockey. We’re very proud of the fact we inaugurated women’s indoor soccer this year as a full, legitimate sport that has been included in the Games. So that’s very exciting.”
And the entire city will be utilized for the event.
“We’re using all the rinks in Lethbridge and nearly all the hotels for participants and spouses that come along,” said Switzer. “We have a huge amount of community as well as through the province that have come on board. So it’s very much a provincial event, but a community enhancement event. So we’re very excited about the businesses that have come on board and the individuals that have come on board.”
Six years after hosting the 2009 event, the Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games pays a return visit to southern Alberta.
“Lethbridge is unique in that we’ve had examples of almost every kind of games here, (such as) the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, those kinds (of events) that speak incredibly well about the depth of commitment and the broadness of the volunteer base we have here,” said Switzer. “It’s just people’s interest in events of life that happen that bring excitement, experience and knowledge to the table. We’ve been very blessed to have wonderful staff members that are very gifted in their fields and very confident and are doing phenomenal work. Part of our commitment and part of our community spirit is that we give of our time, experience and expertise and Lethbridge is never lacking in that.”
The Alberta 55-Plus Winter Games opening ceremonies take place Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Enmax Centre with the pre-entertainment running from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and opening ceremonies taking place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Entertainment for the opening ceremonies will feature the Lethbridge Community Taiko Drum Group, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Cloggers, John Wort Hannam and Maria Livingstone. The closing ceremonies will take place Feb. 22 at the Enmax Centre with the pre-entertainment running from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Entertainment will feature the Troyanda Ukrainian Dancers, the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy and Infunit Performing Arts Academy and the Lethbridge Community Taiko Drum Group.
For more information about volunteering or any of the Games events, visit the website at http://www.2015Alberta55PlusWinterGames.ca or call the Games office at 587-425-0555.

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