Betty Oliver credits her increased mobility and higher quality of life to the Walk With Ease Program held at Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation’s (SPAR) Airport Park Community Center, and the efforts of her instructor, Sheila Hunter. “I lost the use of my legs after my doctor told me I had Type 2 diabetes, but Ms. Shelia is helping us all be healthier,” says Betty, with a smile that is always on her face.
The Walk With Ease Program was developed by the Arthritis Foundation and is beneficial for anyone looking to engage in physical activity, but especially for those suffering with arthritis. Betty attended the one-hour, three-day-per-week program over the course of six weeks, and had a wonderful experience. She does not waste her energy worrying over the years when she allowed her limited mobility and her physical pain to result in a life of inactivity. Since her participation in the Walk With Ease Program, Betty says, “My joints don’t feel like I’m dragging my legs, and I now look forward to being active.” She acknowledges that it is not always easy, saying, “Sometimes it takes me longer to walk, but I have started. I sometimes have to sit down and catch my breath, but my joints don’t lock up like they used to. My doctor is so proud of me!”
“I am in my winter years now,” says Betty. “I need to take better care of myself, but it really helps when you have other people your age to talk to, who know what you’re experiencing.” Once again, she beams with a smile. “This is a great title for this program, because I am now walking with ease from so much pain that was once in my legs!”
Another Walk With Ease participant, Rose Douglas, had a similar experience. When Rose had her second stroke, she accepted the resulting paralysis as a way of life, and she believed her daily pain and discomfort were now her “new normal.” Rose endured her pain and struggled with her restricted movement for years, until she discovered the Walk with Ease program, offered at Mamie Hicks, her neighborhood community center.
Ruby Harris, the instructor for the program, encouraged Rose to participate, in spite of the rolling walker she utilized to get around. Ruby recalls, “At the start of the program, I noticed that Ms. Douglas was not as active and mobile, and she performed the majority of her daily activities in her chair.” After the span of merely three weeks, Ruby began to notice a marked difference in Rose’s mobility and flexibility. Rose was able to use the program to the fullest, thanks to easy-to-understand materials and activities that she could integrate into her daily life.
At the end of the six week program, Rose demonstrated the use of muscles that were once considered inactive. She experienced a reduced level of pain and discomfort, while noticing an increase in her balance and physical strength. Rose also regained the ability to be as physically active as she was prior to her second stroke.
Most importantly, Rose has regained her confidence. She was able to stand on her own, without any assistance much to her pleasure and surprise. Rose praises the Walk With Ease program for the astonishing improvement in her overall health.