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Senior Citizens Voice Their Concerns Over New Exercise Program

by Samantha York 

The expanded Hillsborough Senior Exercise Program partnering with the YMCA has some senior citizens concerned, though Mayor Doug Tomson says the partnership will offer improved wellness programs and services, without additional expense to taxpayers.

Four senior citizens spoke in front of Mayor Tomson and committee members Frank Delcore, Gloria McCauley, and Carl Suraci at a municipal meeting held on Feb. 11. Their concerns focused on the dismissal of the current exercise instructor, Diana Reinhardt, the availability of transportation to the YMCA, and the qualifications of the instructors to meet the needs of the senior citizens.

The Senior Exercise Program, which has over 100 senior participants and meets three times a week in the Municipal complex, will now include free, unlimited use of the lap pools, therapy pools and wellness classes at the YMCA. The township will pay the YMCA $18,000, which was previously allocated to Reinhardt’s salary.

“For the cost of running our program here, we are able to continue and offer access to the YMCA as well,” said Township Committeeman Delcore.

The township is providing more services to the senior citizens with no additional costs to taxpayers, said Mayor Tomson.  

The departure of Reinhardt, who has taught the Senior Exercise Program class for the past 20 years, has come as a shock to the senior participants.

“She is a communal treasure,” said Carl Cucchiara, 63. “She has improved the lives of the senior citizens.”

Lucille Mazzucco, 70, who has Parkinson’s disease, said the program under the direction of Reinhardt has helped her a lot and she acknowledged the additional benefit of the YMCA. Mazzucco also said she is concerned that since transportation to the YMCA is not provided, not all seniors will be able to partake in the program. Mayor Tomson said the committee would look into how transportation to the YMCA could be accommodated. 

Additionally, two women questioned the qualifications of the YMCA instructors to teach senior citizens and tend to their individual needs. New Hillsborough Branch Health and Wellness Director Lisa Welsh said all the instructors are certified to teach their specific programs.  

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