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Church, students donate Wii to senior living residents

White Pines Senior Living resident Ruth Conway attempts to bowl a strike with a student from Memorial Lutheran Church in Afton looking on.2 / 2

It was a day out at the bowling alley, virtually speaking, Wednesday, Aug. 12 for the residents at White Pine Senior Living center, in Cottage Grove, and a group of vacation bible school students from Memorial Lutheran Church, in Afton, without even leaving the couch.

Memorial Lutheran Church donated a Nintendo Wii gaming system to the residents at White Pines as part of a grant, the Thrivent Finanical for Lutherans Care Abounds for Communities grant, the church had received.

"We're here to teach the resident how to use the Wii system," Rev. Gregory Isaacson, of Memorial Lutheran Church, said.

The idea to donate a Wii system to White Pine came from the results of several studies that showed the benefits playing on the Wii can have for the elderly -- increased hand-eye coordination, increased motor skills, and increased mental functions.

"It's a really great asset to have," Isaacson said.

The games included on the system are the Wii Sports games, which include bowling, tennis, baseball and golf.

Many of the residents who participated in the Wii games were a bit confused when it came to handling the controllers, but the students were there to help them along.

Isaacson said having the students come and teach the residents how to play the games, as well as interact with them, will be a great way to connect the different generations in a new way.

"It's going to bring generations together," he said. "It is also going to help the resident revisit their childhoods in cyber space."

For one of the White Pine residents, Ruth Conway, she greatly enjoyed being able to revisit her youth by bowling, she was an avid bowler for many years.

"Of course I had a lot of fun, I just wish it was more real because I would slam that ball right in there," she said. "It was certainly fun, especially just to watch."

However, Conway said the highlight for her was being able to interact with the children that truly touched her heart because she said this was the first time since she had been at White Pines that she was able to interact with children.

"It's just such a joy to see them," she said. "They're so much fun to watch and see -- I think this is just beautiful."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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