This is the name of an initiative by Annika Florin in Örebro, a small town in Sweden. One day when she was out on her regular Saturday walk it struck her that there were so few seniors out there. When she later visited a friend down in the south part of Sweden she was told of a group that had coffee with the elderly and sometimes took them out for a walk. Annika got enthusiastic about the idea and felt that it was something she really wanted to do – something tangible rather than donating money to different organizations. Annika contacted the old people’s home “Skebäcksgården” where Camilla Brehmer Trumö, the Head of Unit took the bait directly. In an interview made by Maria Eremo for the magazin “Hemmets” she said; “I got very enthusiastic when I heard about Annika’s idea to let volunteers take residents out for a walk. We always try to find activities for the elderly and especially those that build bridges between the residents and our community”. The contact to Annika felt like the top prize”
During the first walk only three persons participated, but Annika was determined to continue. Over time more people joined and all of sudden it were almost too many. Together they decided that it should be a maximum of 12 residents for each walk. But when they met afterwards for coffee and cake everyone who wanted was invited to join.
It has become very appreciated among the residents. Arne Beijron will soon turn 95 years old and has been participated since the first walk. He says “The walk on Saturday has become a must”. When they meet for coffee afterwards he often reads his self-written poems. Another resident, Sven Lindstrand, states that the walks give him a break in everyday life.
But it is not just the residents who look forward to the Saturday walks – the volunteers too. Robert Trondby says,”This has given me a lot as a person, I have to go every Saturday. These meetings make me happy”. John Fennhagen says ”I always feel so darn good being here, I start my Saturdays the same way every week”.
Annika herself says, “I notice how I really can stop and let things go during these walks. I listen to stories from the past and enjoy the moment, something I am otherwise quite poor in”. The time you give to another is the finest you can give, it is so incredibly precious. One should be generous with it”. She is also really proud of what she has accomplished but stresses it would not have been possible without all the support and helps from volunteers and sponsors. They all ensure that the elderly get to enjoy the good life.
All the volunteers keep in touch via Facebook and those who want to participate can easily enroll, without any obligation to participate every time.
Already from the beginning simplicity was important. It should not feel like a big deal to take out residents for a walk and drink coffee afterwards and it seems to work as most who have been once comes back.
Annika continues “It would be fantastic if “Proud walkers” was all over the country. The recipe is simple and it does not require that much commitment, really, there is absolutely nothing difficult. It’s just that spark”.
This is again a story (see my blog post about Per here) that shows that it does not take a huge effort and organization to make a difference in people’s lives and give them new perspectives – a small deed with big impact. This is really a win win story, not only do the elderly get away from their sometimes boring every day life. The “younger” get a possibility to slow down and reflect over their own sometimes stressful lives and ideas can be exchanged face to face. If you know someone like Annika, please share it with me on twitter @Do_Deeds or leave a comment below.