Tai Chi Balance Classes seeking volunteers to train to teach seniors

Improve Balance, Increase Strength, Help Others

RSVP will offer volunteer instructor training in February for a senior Tai Chi program, providing active retirees a way to serve their community through teaching classes while also improving their own balance and staying fit.

The two-day training with the Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance Master Trainer is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17, in Ventura. Several follow-up practices with other trained volunteers will be scheduled before volunteers lead a class. Most volunteers will practice over 30 hours before being certified to teach. Attendance at quarterly in-services will also be required. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be age 55 or older and make a six-month commitment to teach three hours per week.

For more information on the instructor training or to register to be trained as an instructor, please call 385-8023. The free classes will be held in the four west county cities served by the Oxnard RSVP.

A federal grant received by the City of Oxnard and its RSVP program funds the free exercise classes, which are being offered in partnership with the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging.

Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance follows curriculum developed at the Oregon Research Institute (in Oregon) where studies showed improved strength and balance, increased mobility and reduced incidence of falls among seniors who participated in the classes.

The 12-week evidence-based program consists of a core eight-form routine of Yang-style Tai Chi with built-in exercise variations. It teaches participants balance skills and good body alignment by using coordinated and flowing movements. The classes are intended for adults age 60 and older who can walk easily with or without assistive devices.

RSVP is currently recruiting volunteers to lead the classes in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Port Hueneme; bilingual volunteers are particularly needed. Volunteers team teach to allow for vacation and sick time. All RSVP volunteers must be age 55 or better.

One in three Americans over the age of 65 fall every year and falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs, according to the National Council on Aging.

Falling, however, is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, participation in evidence-based falls prevention programs, such as Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance, and other interventions, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

Those interested in taking the 12-week class, but not being an instructor, should call the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s fall prevention program at 477-7347 to have their name put on the waiting list.

RSVP is a volunteer recruitment and placement program, helping people 55 and older find volunteer positions that match their interests, talent and available time. The Oxnard RSVP has almost 575 members and is sponsored by the City of Oxnard. To learn more about being an RSVP member or to discuss other volunteer opportunities, call 385-8023.

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