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John Bartels, Peg McDonough, Town Manager Ken Walto, Kelly Pizzi and A.J. Enchill cut the ribbon on Friday.
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John Bartels.
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James McMahon demonstrates the equipment.
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Peg McDonough.
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Kelly Pizzi is presented with a Senate citation honoring the efforts from AJ Enchill, representing state Sen. Adam Hinds.

Dalton Senior Center Cuts Ribbon on New Exercise Park

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The hope is that many will use the equipment with friends to make exercise fun.
DALTON, Mass. — The Senior Center has made it a bit easier for people to be healthy and fit even later in life.
Through a grant from AARP, a half-dozen pieces of outdoor workout equipment have been installed on the property.
The hope is to make it easier for the seniors to get moderate workouts alongside their peers to stay healthier.
"The purpose of this park is to make exercise fun. When activities are fun, people are more likely to engage in them more often. They bring their friends to share in the fun with them and they are more likely to spend more time doing fun things together," Executive Director Kelly Pizzi said.
The pieces of equipment include a double leg press, chest pull, pommel horse, ski walker, stationary bike, and a rowing machines. And there is more to come as Pizzi has secured funding for more equipment to arrive in the spring. 
"We've been looking at this beautiful property and thinking 'how do we get seniors outside? How do we get them to use some of the property and get outdoors?" Pizzi said. "We tried a couple of field days which were fun but it is not something on a regular basis."
The project came together with the work of numerous organizations. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's Age-Friendly Berkshires Initiative helped secure the grant funds. Peg McDonough, who heads the initiative for BRPC, said the exercise park is one of the first for seniors in the county.
"Age-friendly seeks to help all residents be active, healthy, safe, connected to one another over the lifespan so that we can enjoy long lives in the communities that we love," she said.
The town of Dalton supported the effort and even had Highway Department workers pour the concrete and install the pieces. Selectman John Bartels said it was "a great effort on everyone's part." He said the benefits of such are project aren't quantifiable but are meaningful to the residents.

James McMahon from the CRA demonstrated the equipment.
"It is quality of life for the community, for the town. It is a great gift," Bartels said.
Dalton had signed a resolution vowing the make the town more age-friendly earlier this year. With an aging population, the Age-Friendly Berkshires Initiative is aimed to help residents enjoy their community later in life and has taken on a number of such projects to make the county more welcoming for seniors.
"Everything fell into place so easily, with the exception of the weather of course," Pizzi said of the exercise park project, noting the rainy and snowy weather the town's workers had to work in to install the equipment. 
The effort was also noted by state Sen. Adam Hinds' office. A.J. Enchill, from the senator's office, presented Pizzi with a Senate citation recognizing the work put into the project. 
The ribbon was cut on Friday and James McMahon, the fitness director at the town's Community Recreation Association, demonstrated the equipment. Pizzi now hopes, particularly when the weather clears up in the spring, she'll see plenty of seniors congregating on the equipment, making friends and staying fit.

Tags: age-friendly,   exercise,   exercise equipment,   senior center,   senior citizens,   

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Dalton Fifth-Grader Embraces School Project to Aid Children's Hospital

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff

DALTON, Mass. — When Kalen Spratt was just 18 months old, he had to have surgery at Boston Children's Hospital.

So now that he's a healthy 10-year-old at Craneville Elementary School, it's only natural that he chose Boston Children's as the recipient of a fundraising project sparked by a unique classroom assignment from his fifth-grade teacher, Teresa Bills.

"I was scared, but the doctors and nurses made me feel so much better," Kalen said in a letter his mother, Shana, helped him write and circulate seeking donations. "If you could find it in your heart to donate to me, I would be forever grateful."

For more than 15 years, Bills has been giving her fifth-graders $5 each. Her students are encouraged to take that money and turn it into more money for a good cause, doing research on the organization they choose and preparing a presentation about their choice.

"I want them to add to that five dollars," Bills said. "The $120 I give, they all turn it into thousands."

Over the years, students have given to many different causes and organizations, including places like Moments House and Berkshire County Kids Place. They raise money in all sorts of ways, she said, from doing chores around the house to selling cookies or bracelets they make. One student even sold pieces of duct tape to other students, who then got to stick all the tape to a wall of the school.

"Never done that before," Bills said with a laugh.

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