On the afternoon of 21 March, the air at Sree Narayana Mission Nursing Home (SNM) was one of eager anticipation.
Residents on wheelchairs were practising their swings with badminton rackets. Others were waving blue pom-poms around.
It was the day of the “Volley-Balloon Championship Games”. Residents representing three different wards were competing to win the title of Volley-Balloon champions.
The game was played much like badminton, except the “shuttlecock” was a balloon in this scenario. Residents has been taking classes conducted by SNM staff for the past three weeks in preparation for the championship.
The teams took turns competing against one another, encouraged by SNM staff “tagged” to each team. Staff even got involved in one of the rounds.
It was a close fight between all three teams, but it was the residents of Level 1 ward who emerged the winners. Still, as clichéd as it may sound, everyone was a winner that day! The joy on the faces of residents and staff was proof.
Participants were presented with trophies and medals, before they feasted on a sumptuous meal prepared by the home’s staff.
The championship was part of a larger initiative by SNM to engage their residents through sports. This initiative is the CareMasters programme, which was introduced in 2017 at their nursing home in a pilot with SportsCares.
CareMasters is SportCares’ initiative to reach out to vulnerable seniors through adaptive sports with the aim of promoting inclusion and integration. Though similar to typical sport activities, adaptive sports allow for modifications which enable people with disabilities to participate. For example, in the Volley Balloon games, a balloon was used in place of a shuttlecock as it was safer and easier for residents to hit.
During the sessions leading up to the championship, SNM staff learnt not to underestimate residents’ talents, and also found out that some residents enjoy sports. Anna Ruth Cariaso, Assistant Programme Coordinator, shared, “Our residents always looked forward to the next CareMasters session. They were also happy to meet new friends from other levels.”
Some of the upcoming sports activities that the residents will participate in include modified versions of football, bowling and wheelchair racing.