A senior citizens’ park was unveiled at the Bombay Port Trust Garden in Colaba on Friday at 9am. In a first, it boasts of seven state-of-the-art machines — a seated puller, a cycle, a sky walker, a standing and seating twister, a leg press, a shoulder builder and a cross trainer — built at a cost of Rs20 lakh.
Senior citizens, however, can avail of the equipment for free.
The project was jointly executed by ward corporator Makarand Narwekar, citizen’s group My Dream Colaba, the Colaba Advanced Locality Management and Reliance India.
“I attended a residents’ welfare association meeting last year and was told that parks for senior citizens are mandatory in countries such as China,” Narwekar told HT. He said this prompted him to move a motion in the civic body for the construction of such parks all across Mumbai.
SP Nanda, vice-president of Reliance, said the machines were specially designed to suit senior citizens. “Reliance is not a small company. We have gyms at our offices all over the country. This however, was the first time we oversaw the construction of a gym outside office premises. We consulted medical experts to determine what equipment was most suitable for senior citizens,” he said.
“I would come to the park frequently and see senior citizens only walking or sitting on the benches. We thought of doing something more for them. We began by looking at international data on parks for senior citizens and saw that China had 50,000 such parks in 2009. Our 2011 census shows that the percentage of senior citizens in our country is high. This park is our contribution to them,” said Harshita Narwekar, trustee of My Dream Colaba.
Kunti Ozha, chairperson, Clean Mumbai Foundation, said the park’s accessibility is what will attract senior citizens. “Some of them are too shy to join a gym. However, when they see their friends exercising here, they are sure to participate,” she said. She added that she expects the number of senior citizens at the park to increase once word-of-mouth begins to spread.
Locals welcomed the initiative. “I visit the garden for my daily walk. I’m excited to try out the new machines,” said Ganga Patel, 60, a housewife.
Ashwin Narwekar, trustee, My Dream Colaba, said the team plans to rope in trainers — at least once a week — to show senior citizens how to use the equipment. “It is important that they do not over-exert themselves,” he said.
It has, however, not been decided who will be responsible for the upkeep of the machines.
“There need to be proper security measures in place. Guards need to keep a watch on the machines so they are not sabotaged by miscreants,” said Gul Punjabi, 81, a frequent visitor to the garden.
The collaborators of this project plan to set up a similar park at a garden in Cuffe Parade, if the response is positive.