‘It’s really tough to get any kind of physical activity’: Hamilton seniors respond to recreation closures

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Gabe Szvoboda was a regular at the Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre before the pandemic.

The 71-year-old would play table tennis, badminton, and bridge, and take yoga and painting classes.

He went back when the centre reopened on Oct. 5 with limited numbers. One of the table tennis players made a weekly schedule so everyone knew which days they could play.

They had three tables set up across the gym with two players each, for a maximum of six at a time.

Edwin Chong, the 75-year-old who created the schedule, said people enjoyed playing again. “Especially for seniors, it’s really tough to get any kind of physical activity,” he said.

But when the city announced late Nov. 15 that many recreational programs would be cancelled once Hamilton entered the province’s “red zone,” some of the seniors were “disappointed.”

“It came very sudden, so there was no indication whatsoever this might come,” Szvoboda said. “We heard of the problem over the weekend and suddenly Monday we could not register anymore.”