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Parafed Canterbury received $10,000 to help fund a part-time gym supervisor for two years, enabling them to continue providing a valuable service to Christchurch's hard-hit eastern suburbs.
Until May 2012 Parafed operated its own community gym and office at the Burwood Hospital, but building inspections deemed the location unsafe.
Parafed operations manager Ken Sowden says they secured temporary space for a small, specialised gym for physically disabled clients inside the hospital's physiotherapy hall. This was on the proviso there was a supervisor available during the gym's opening hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
"We were desperate for a new site and the Red Cross community-led recovery grant came along at the perfect time for us. It opened up the opportunity to get our service back up and running," explains Ken. "Receiving the grant was a godsend and we're thankful to the Red Cross for enabling us to continue operating the past two years."
"The outcomes for people are huge," says Ken. "We've seen people increasing their strength and endurance. They now have the ability to climb in and out of bed unassisted. Results like that give us a real buzz for what we do."
Red Cross funding helps pay the salary of gym supervisor, Alex McIntyre, who himself has spina bifida.
"We see people with a variety of needs, but we help anyone who comes to us and think of ways to help them with their exercise," Alex explains. "One of the biggest things is providing a place where they can get out of the house and exercise in a safe place using specialist equipment."
Key says the long-term goal is to again re-establish a community gym, ideally in Burwood, then additionally offer a variety of sports and recreation programmes.