A Dose of Vitamin Green – Accompanied Walks at COAM
This autumn lots of over 65s have joined us for an Accompanied Walk. When asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, did you feel that your mood was happier after the walk than before the walk?”, every single one replied 5 out of 5!
If you have not yet heard about our Accompanied `Walks programme, here is a quick explanation….
The team at Chiltern Open Air Museum recognised that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, difficulties for those members of the elderly community who were already experiencing social isolation, have been exacerbated. To promote and support the health and wellbeing of this sector of our community, we invited individuals and some couples (and some dogs!) to the museum for an accompanied walk with a friendly and knowledgeable COAM volunteer. Walkers were encouraged to invite along a carer or friend for both support and to increase access to the programme. Throughout the experience, Government guidelines on social distancing were followed.
This project, funded by the Sherling Trust, gave visitors the opportunity to enjoy an hour’s walk around the museum and learn about our 37 heritage buildings, gardens, park and woodland. Before heading back home, walkers were offered a cuppa and snack.
In advance of their visit, I asked each walker a few nosey questions so that I could gauge their level of mobility and gain an idea of some of their interests. Armed with this information, I was then able to match the walker to one of the fabulous accompanying COAM volunteers. So, along with the benefits of being out and about in the great outdoors in a beautiful, safe and supported environment, walkers also benefited from lively and engaging conversation.
We couldn’t agree more with the findings of Walking for Heath’s Walking Works report which includes the following findings:
“Walking is the most likely way all adults can achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.”
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
“Being physically active is particularly beneficial for the mental health of older people, improving cognitive functioning, memory, attention and processing speed, reducing symptoms of dementia, improving mood and satisfaction with life, and decreasing feelings of loneliness.”
The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health
Feedback from both the walkers and volunteers involved in the Accompanied Walks programme at COAM has been unanimously positive.
“I accompanied my mother who was a little unsure about going on the walk but she really enjoyed it. We had lovely weather, our volunteer was helpful, kind and very informative. Everyone we met in the walk was kind too. We both really appreciated the opportunity given.” Accompanied Walker
“The whole experience was quite refreshing and in these ‘troubled times’ a little bit of normality…the wonders of being out with nature, good for body and soul!” Accompanied Walker
We hope to offer Accompanied Walks again next year, so if you are interested, 65 years or older and in need a change of scene, for 2021, please email firstname.lastname@example.org supplying your name and telephone number.
Outreach at COAM