Still dancing at 77
by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging
|A Matter of Balance class participant Christyna Jensen (right) proudly displays her Matter of Balance class certificate. Standing next to Christyna is Carleena Angwin, Master Trainer, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, Tennessee. Photo by Carleena Angwin.
Christyna Jensen is a professional storyteller, and when asked to tell her own story regarding her experience with Matter of Balance - the words flow easily.
Christyna began dancing professionally at the age of eleven in Las Vegas, and performed on the Mickey Mouse Club Radio Show - talking and tap dancing. She continues to take dance classes even now, including belly dancing. She credits both her early years of dance training and her more recent Matter of Balance class with helping her make it through a fall she suffered at the end of 2010. The class was presented by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department at the Silver Life Center, a few short steps away from Christyna's home.
The class reminded her of the falls training she had received as a dancer earlier in her life. In fact, she demonstrated the fall techniques she had learned to her MOB classmates, and instructors were delighted to learn that they matched the Matter of Balance curriculum.
"Christyna played a big role in class the day we talked about the correct way to fall - hands forward, protecting your head," said Carleena Angwin, A Matter of Balance Master Trainer who facilitated the class. "She actually did 2-3 demonstrations in class for her classmates."
Little did Christyna know that a simple misstep on a curb would set her own fall into motion. Fortunately, she instinctively knew what to do. She knew how to roll, and more importantly, how to keep her head and face safe. Her doctor is quite certain the fall could have been fatal if she had not taken the proper steps to protect herself.
As Chrisyna recounts the story of her life, she keeps coming back to sing the praises of the Silver Life Center, and the Matter of Balance class offered by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. She said making new friends in the class was an extra benefit to refreshing the skills she had learned early in her dance career. She keeps a closer eye on every curb, and realizes this new attentiveness is keeping her both safe and active. It's a story she's proud to share.
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A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. The program consists of eight 2-hour sessions. Participants learn to set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance.