Seniors bowl for fitness

Published 9:27 pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leland Pierce swings his arm back to bowl in the Wii Bowling Championship at the East Suffolk Recreation Center on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by Suffolk on the Move and Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

Gracie Cotton pulled her pink-sleeved arm back, slung it forward and sent the ball rolling down the alley toward 10 pins at the other end.

She knocked down eight on her first try, then toppled the other two for a spare.

But she wasn’t at a bowling alley — she was in a room filled with pool tables and televisions at the East Suffolk Recreation Center. The ball, alley and pins were all virtually created on a screen.

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Cotton was one of about 25 seniors who participated in the Wii Bowling Championship hosted by the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community’s Suffolk on the Move program and Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

“I was a long time learning, but once I learned, I liked it,” Cotton said.

The seniors and volunteers gathered in two rooms at the recreation center on Wednesday. They doled out advice on how to hit a strike and cheered each other on when they knocked down all the virtual pins.

The Wii gaming system allows users to bowl with the use of a hand-held remote. The system senses how the hand moves as it’s holding the remote and bowls accordingly.

Last week, a different group of seniors played, and the event was also hosted on a different day for about 35 children with various disabilities from Suffolk Public Schools.

“Suffolk on the Move is all about fitness and exercising, regardless of where you are,” said Bobbie Chapman, executive assistant for the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community. “With Wii bowling, someone that walks with a cane can do it.”

All of the Suffolk on the Move events are designed to encourage everyone to become more active, no matter their age, fitness level or hindrances.

“The idea behind all our Suffolk on the Move events is to highlight the fact that you don’t have to be a marathon runner to live a physically active and healthy life,” Jaya Tiwari, executive director of the partnership, said in an email.

This is the second year Wii bowling has been hosted for seniors and school children, and it was so popular last year they decided to bring it back, Tiwari said.

“I played in the last one,” said Leland Pierce, who was playing again on Wednesday. “I participate in most of the stuff they have here.”

The participants received medals for high individual scores, high team scores and the most strikes in a row. They also were treated to a luncheon provided by Walmart.

“It’s not a contest,” Chapman said. “It’s just encouraging people to stay fit and move.”