Celebrating Community at Fountain Ridge!
There are many goals that we have when it comes to the health and wellness services we offer. First and foremost, we want to increase engagement, which simply means we want to see our residents engage with our staff, their neighbors, and larger community, so that it might build relationships and trust with others.
Secondly, we want to see our residents build life skills that will help them in their own lives. This can be hard skills, like learning a new sport or applying for health benefits, or soft skills like building the self confidence to try new things. These are skills that any person would want opportunities to build on, and the great thing about Archway is that we strive to provide access to these opportunities on each of our properties every week.
Fountain Ridge has been a perfect example of the benefits of engaging in physical activities and team sports. Jasmine, our Supportive Services Coordinator, does a fantastic job of not just being there for her community at Fountain but also staying on the lookout for opportunities to get her residents engaged in new activities together in their community.
“I have always loved sports, I play in a couple of leagues myself,” she tells me, “So I’m always on the lookout for opportunities for our residents to play on a team.”
When she got an email from the Fountain Rec Department about a co-ed kickball league she thought it would be great to see what interest she might get from residents.
“I was shocked at how many were willing to give it a try! It kind of took on a life of its own from there. We got the team shirts to hand out at our Spring Break event earlier this year, and I think that’s when they really got excited to start playing.”
To get enough residents to put an entire team together is a great turn out, but there’s a reason behind it. A lot of times, particularly with sports, it’s something that many people might like to try, but there’s quite a few hurdles. First, there’s the cost of the league, then there’s the transportation to get there. Then, you have to worry about any equipment you might need, and lastly, you have to be okay with not knowing anyone when you get placed on a team.
But in this case, our grant from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation covered the team fee, making it free for our residents. Archway has a large van on each site to help facilitate transportation when our residents may not be able to access it. And, in this case, there were multiple residents each Thursday needing a ride to the games.
“Plus, everybody knows who’s on their team because they’re people that live in the community,” Jasmine adds. “They are people you see at every resident event, and they’re just excited for you to be trying something new. It completely gets rid of the intimidation and makes it a comfortable place to just be yourself and give kickball a try.”
And once the season started, it wasn’t just teammates that were familiar faces. “Each week we had residents and kids wanting to come along to the games just to cheer us on, it was so cool,” Jasmine tells me.
It became something that many residents looked forward to. One team member told Jasmine it was the highlight of her week. She posted on social media each week about the game times and results afterwards.
“It’s such a good outlet for so many reasons,” Jasmine says, “Not only does it give you a sense of community and connection to people because you’re on the same team, but it builds your self-confidence. For this resident, she told me she had never played a team sport before. Now she’s showing up each week and feeling like she is a part of something and contributing to our group success. She can say ‘I did that’ when she looks back on it.”
In fact, it was such an important part of the week for many residents, that as the season wound down the realization set in that they would have to wait another year before they could share this again.
“At one of our last games one of the Fountain Rec employees approached me about other leagues they had. He said, ‘I just love your team so much, it’s so cool that you guys are all connected through the community that you live in. And I can see the impact you have on other teams, everybody loves playing you guys!’”
He shared with Jasmine that they had a softball league starting up right after kickball and that they should consider giving it a try.
“I was a little hesitant about it, only because there’s a lot more equipment involved, and softball is a step up from kickball in terms of skill and game rules. But the team wanted to try it.”
Jasmine visited Goodwill to try to round up as many mitts as she could, using our health grant to pay for the league fee and equipment. At this point, between league fees, the tshirts and equipment, the grant had covered over $1,000 that would normally fall to players to pay in order to participate.
“Some residents had mitts of their own too and had even played either baseball or softball before. That was really helpful when games started because they were able to coach new players through some of the rules and strategy.
“They even added a practice on Tuesday nights so anyone new could work on basic skills like catching and hitting. Our more experienced players did the coaching.”
I asked Jasmine what it was like to be in the middle of something that had really blossomed, becoming something that the residents owned and kept up.
“I just remember sitting in the dugout at one of our games; the other team had just lent us some of their mitts so that we had enough for each of our players in the field. And I just thought, ‘Man, this is what community is all about.’ Getting to see residents who were new to sport set goals and get excited about achieving them; seeing other residents take lead in teaching their teammates; seeing the opposing team show such sportsmanship in helping us out; it was such a cool experience.”
While the softball season presented a new challenge, you can imagine how excited the team was to learn that kickball had a fall season, to which Jasmine promptly signed up for.
“We’re about a month into the second kickball league now, and I just know when it finishes our group will say, ‘what’s next?’” Kickball seems to be the team favorite so far, but the Fountain Recreation Department has plenty of opportunities for citizens to get involved in physical activities.
There are so many benefits to getting out and getting active, but more importantly doing it with others around you – being active in community. Our Fountain residents are seeing so many positive things from the mood boost of exercise, building self confidence, and experiencing the camaraderie when achieving goals together. These are things at the heart of our mission at Archway – more than providing a roof over the heads of our residents, we want to build up those in our communities and create the opportunities to engage with others.