by Yasmin Parry
Leichhardt Council hopes its new Seniors Playground at Leichhardt Park will become a fitness and social hub for the elderly community. Mayor Rochelle Porteous unveiled Sydney’s first playground for seniors on March 17th to coincide with NSW Seniors Week. The park contains eight exercise machines designed specifically for people aged 60 and over.
“Leichhardt Council is very committed to its seniors. We strongly support them, ” Mayor Porteous said.
Designed for accessibility and safety, the playground is fitted with treadmills, cross-trainers, a cycle trainer, sit-up bench and pull-up bar, as well as rubber soft fall surfacing. The playground was funded with a $17,500 NSW Government Sport and Recreation Grant, plus a further $32,500 from Leichhardt Council.
Giuliana Ravetti, senior member of the Balmain community, was among 30 people who attended the opening ceremony, and said it was a “lovely” facility for elderly people.
Mrs Ravetti suffered a knee injury three years ago, and as she eases back into a regular exercise regime, she would prefer to work out at the Seniors Playground with people her age rather than at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Gym, located directly behind the playground.
“Old people do go to the gym, but the young people make them feel shy. And we can’t do what the young people do,” she said.
Ted James, a senior Rodd Point resident, said the playground would help people in the seniors community who find it difficult to make new friends.
“Older people want to get out of the house and the playground might give them a place to go,” he said.
Volunteer Leichhardt ranger Shane Losurdo has some reservations about the playground. He says the park would need increased supervision to discourage vandals from defacing the new equipment.
Leichhardt Seniors Council hosted a public meeting in March to discuss plans for events to be held at the playground.
“I’ve been suggesting a morning where we have an instructor come down to the park for a bit of a get together and exercise. It could be really good,” said Maureen Burdynski, a representative of Leichhardt Seniors Council.