Hector Arena Walkers create a safe place to be active in the winter

Hector Arena walkers
Hector Arena walkers (contributed)

As time passes, physical health becomes more important by the day, even if it’s just getting a few steps in around the block. With cold and icy Nova Scotia winters, it can be challenging for seniors in the community to get outside and walk.

The Hector Arena in Pictou, Nova Scotia now has a solution to this problem thanks to the Hector Arena Walkers, who put in the work to acquire funds to smooth out the walking track around the arena’s hockey rink. 

Ann Young is part of the group that recognized this issue and helped create a solution.

“There’s a group of people, mostly seniors, which walks during the summer but try to also walk during the winter. Pictou is built on a hill, so in inclement weather, when the arena is open, we used to walk around the rink, but it was on the hard cement, and it wasn’t always smooth,” said Young.

Young and others formed the Hector Arena Walkers and secured funding to have mats put on the floor covering the hockey rink so seniors in the community can stay active and safe during the winter. 

“We want to stay active and for some of us, it’s a social activity. People meet up with friends to go for their walk. Some even bring their dog,” said Young. 

At first, they only had four-foot wide mats around part of the rink’s circumference, but now they have enough to cover up to eight feet across, making it easier for those walking the rink. 

This past year, will be the first year they have mats covering the rink’s entire circumference since they started raising money in 2016.

Using the rink as a walking track isn’t limited to seniors; it’s open to everyone in the entire county, not just the Town of Pictou. 

All that is asked of people entering is to follow the rink’s COVID rules and considering donating at the door. The money donated is used to help the Hector Arena to continue giving back to the community.

Recognizing a need for accessibility, Young mentioned that the next issue they may tackle is getting transportation for people without reliable transportation so they can join the walks rather than be confined at home. 

“The purpose is to keep people healthy, and to get people out and socialize,” said Young.

The walking track will continue to make a difference for seniors in the community. Back in 2016, there were only eight regular walkers, and now there are 50! 

Young tells a story about how a man who came to the walking track was struggling to walk on his own, and the two of them meeting turned him into a regular walker at Hector Arena. 

“He asked me about the walking poles I was using... I told him where to buy them in town, and now he uses them all the time, and he’s a regular walking around the rink! That is a moment that stands out to me, and he thanks me all the time for it,” said Young.

The Hector Arena Walkers are always open to more people joining them at the rink. To anyone interested in attending, the Hector Arena is open for walking on Mondays to Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. It is also available Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Upon entering, you must wear a mask, sign in, keep six feet apart from other walkers outside your group and walk in the designated direction around the rink. Don’t forget to leave a donation as well!

In 2019, this program received funding through Pictou West Community Health Boards (CHB) Wellness Funds.

Each year, Nova Scotia Health designates funds for each CHB in the province to distribute as Wellness Funds.

This Wellness Fund is for non-profit groups working to improve health in their communities and must address the health priorities identified by CHBs in their current community health plans.