COVID-19 keeps Vernon seniors off Okanagan Lake

Boat program scuttled

Another popular seniors program has been grounded because of COVID-19.

A program through the Okanagan Quality Life Society takes seniors and those with mobility challenges onto Okanagan Lake for a one-hour tour, however, the virus has scuttled the sailings for 2020.

One of the captains for the program is Frits Van Dyl and he enjoys taking people out as much as they enjoy going out.

The pontoon boat Heaven Can Wait made numerous sailings last year and the excitement of the clients was obvious.

This year, rainy weather aside, it is just not possible to take the seniors on the pontoon while maintaining social-distancing protocols.

“What we're realizing is all our clients – there are about 54 of them – are stuck at home and their homes might not be as nice as yours and mine,” said Van Dyl, adding it does not look like the clients will be getting out on Okanagan Lake at all this year.

Van Dyl said the 60-minute boat rides were beneficial mentally and physically for the clients.

“You could just see it. They were like kids on recess in school,” said Van Dyl. “We may take it for granted a lot of us who go about our business and life is good and we sometimes forget people who are still shut in.”
And while they may not be able to go out on the boat, Van Dyl is producing a video that they can watch to at least enjoy past memories.

“Our thoughts are with them everyday and this is a little thing we can do to brighten up their day I hope,” he said.

The video will show seniors on the boat enjoying a sunny day on Okanagan Lake.

The the Cycling Without Age program has also been put on hold this year.

In less than three months last year, the program took hundreds of seniors for hundreds of rides around the city in a electric-assist tricycle.

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