Health Check: Central Falls seniors get free access to Pawtucket YMCA

Central Falls seniors now have free access to the Pawtucket family YMCA. (WJAR)

Central Falls seniors now have free access to the Pawtucket family YMCA.

It's all thanks to funding through the Blue Angel Community Health Grant program, which is the charitable arm of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

Four days a week, busloads of seniors are brought in from Central Falls -- where they don’t have a YMCA -- to Pawtucket.

"I've seen a lot of the seniors actually going from barely being able to move, to walking like a young person," said Heather Phillips, who is a transportation coordinator at the Y.

"I help them to go on the bus, how to use machines,” said Mara Mata who works for the City of Central Falls.

Her job to work with the seniors in the program.

"If it's not for this program, she can't move her legs anymore,” Mata said, speaking on behalf of Gilma Sandoval, who rarely misses a trip to the Y.

The seniors visit from an assisted living and community health center in Central Falls, with the help of Progresso Latino.

"Progresso Latino also sends staff because 80 percent of the members who participate in this program are Spanish speakers, so they're able to translate for us,” said Reginald Jean, who is the executive director of the Pawtucket Y “We're able to have inclusive-based programs (and) they also do dance classes (and) aqua aerobics in the water.”

Leila Abdul-Ahad said she loves it.

"I'm 85 years old and go every day -- every time I come, Thank God,” said Abdul-Ahad. "I practice for my knees. If I don't come one day, I'm sick or something, I feel I'm not healthy. I'm healthy in the water."

Jean said she has seen a difference in the seniors.

“A lot of the seniors have come in here and they're able to be more mobile,” said Jean. “You see they're pushing themselves on the treadmills, they're doing more in the water, but also the socialization aspect. They're able to build friendships and they're telling others about the good time that they're having here."

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